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Donald Trump’s sons criticized after brutal hunting photos released

Donald Trump, Jr. in a hunting photo that has drawn criticism from PETA

Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump have drawn the ire of PETA after photos surfaced showing the brothers on a wild game hunting trip in Zimbabwe last year.

TMZ first posted photos from the trip under the headline, "Donald Trump's Sons Ignite War Over Animal Butchery." During the hunting trip, the Trump sons reportedly killed a number of exotic animals, including an elephant, crocodile, kudu, civet cat and waterbuck.

The photos were criticized by the animal rights organization PETA, who said in a statement to Hollywood Life:

"Like all animals, elephants, buffalo, and crocodiles deserve better than to be killed and hacked apart for two young millionaires' grisly photo opportunity. If the young Trumps are looking for a thrill, perhaps they should consider skydiving, bungee jumping, or even following in their anti-hunting father's footsteps and taking down competing businesses—not wild animals. If the Trumps want to help villagers, they have plenty of resources at their disposal."

Trump was quick to defend his sons, telling TMZ, "My sons love hunting. They're hunters and they've become good at it. I know that anything they did was 100% OK in terms of the hunting community." However, Trump was equally quick to note that he himself does not share in the sport, saying, "I am not a believer in hunting and I'm surprised they like it."

In one of the more controversial photos, Donald Jr. is seen grinning broadly while holding the severed tail of an elephant in his hands. He defended his actions on his Twitter account, saying that he was simply taking part in a local custom.

Trump Jr. has been actively defending his actions to his 120,000 followers, along with getting into a few spats with readers. In one update, Trump Jr. writes, "I don't apologize to cater to public opinion when I did nothing wrong. To do so would be to sell myself out."

And in responding to criticism from PETA, he wrote, "yea ok peta not exactly known for credible and unbiased info."

The two Trump sons are both integral parts of their father's real-estate empire. Along with sister Ivanka, both Eric and Donald Jr. serve executive vice presidents of the Trump Organization, working directly on real estate deals. Trump Jr. also serves as an ambassador to Operation Smile, while Eric Trump has started his own Eric Trump Foundation to benefit St. Jude. Both sons also serve as consultants on their father's hit show, "The Apprentice."

In a joint statement released by the Trump brothers, they defended their actions and noted that all of the meat killed in their hunting expedition was donated to local villagers:

"We are both avid outdoorsmen and were brought up hunting and fishing with our grandfather, who taught us that nothing should ever be taken for granted or wasted. We have the utmost respect for nature and have always hunted in accordance with local laws and regulations."

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