Tess Thompson Talley - the American trophy hunter who faced intense public backlash last year when photos surfaced of her posing next to a slain "rare" giraffe - said Friday that she continues to be "proud to hunt" and has no regrets.
"You do what you love to do," she said. "If you don't love what you do, you're not gonna continue to do it."
Talley said she felt joy when hunting, and that she is "absolutely" still going.
"This hunt in particular was a conservation hunt," said Talley, of Kentucky, in an interview with CBS. That hunt was designed to manage the amount of wildlife in a given area, she said.
The controversial images, which Talley first posted in 2017, show her standing proudly beside a dead giraffe bull along with the caption: "Prayers for my once in a lifetime dream hunt came true today! Spotted this rare black giraffe bull and stalked him for quite a while. I knew it was the one. He was over 18 years old, 4000 lbs. and was blessed to be able to get 2000 lbs. of meat from him."
The pictures were resurfaced on Twitter last June by South Africa-based AfricLand Post. Accompanying the post, which shows two pictures of Talley over her the giraffe she shot, were the words: "White american savage who is partly a neanderthal comes to Africa and shoot down a very rare black giraffe courtesy of South Africa stupidity. Her name is Tess Thompson Talley. Please share."
Talley defended the kill in a statement to Fox News last year, saying that the "breed is not rare in any way other than it was very old. Giraffes get darker with age."
Talley told "CBS This Morning" that she's made decorative pillows which "everybody loves" and a gun case out of the slain giraffe. She also described the animal as "delicious."
"Not only was he beautiful and majestic, but he was good," she said.
Although it is a hobby she enjoys, Talley acknowledges hunting is emotionally difficult.
"Everybody thinks that the easiest part is pulling the trigger. And it's not," she said to CBS. "That's the hardest part. But you gain so much respect, and so much appreciation for that animal because you know what that animal is going through. They are put here for us. We harvest them, we eat them."
Actress Debra Messing called Talley over Instagram last June "a disgusting, vile, amoral, heartless, selfish murderer."
Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International, said in a statement to CBS news that "trophy hunting of giraffe shows sheer and arrogant disregard for the imperiled status of an iconic species. ... There has been an overall population decline of 40 percent over the last 30 years."
Trophy hunting is a legal practice in a number of African countries, Fox reported, including South Africa, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. In South Africa, where animals such as buffalo, elephants, and lion are often targeted, trophy hunting is a $2 billion-per-year industry, reported the BBC.
Follow Elinor Aspegren on Twitter: @elinoraspegren.
Contributing: Matthew Diebel, USA TODAY.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: After backlash for slain giraffe photo, hunter says animal was 'majestic,' 'delicious'