What must've happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling? pic.twitter.com/DyYw1T5ck2— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) April 13, 2015
On April 15, Gervais posted the image on Twitter that has been re-tweeted more than 30,000 times, writing "What must've happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling?"
The image, said to be close to five years old, has stirred heated controversy, with many Twitter users voicing their desire for Francis to be killed.
Rebecca Francis deserves to die. Just saying.— Claudia del Castillo (@clauditamaria) April 15, 2015
trophy hunter rebecca francis should be hunted down and shot.— Dan Hintz (@danielhintz) April 15, 2015
@RebeccaFrancis1 How does it feel to be the one being hunted Rebecca Francis ?— The Rebel Queen (@The_Rebel_Heart) April 15, 2015
'The hunter always becomes the hunted' Rebecca Francis hope you learn this very soon, you vile disgusting person. #RebeccaFrancis— LIAM GRAY (@LTGRAY_) April 15, 2015
According to HuntingLife.com's Facebook page, Francis defended her actions saying that the giraffe was alone, elderly, past his breeding prime, exiled from his herd and close to death.
"When I was in Africa five years ago I was of the mindset that I would never shoot a giraffe," Francis wrote according to HuntingLife.com. "They asked me if I would preserve this giraffe by providing all the locals with food and other means of survival. He was inevitably going to die soon and he could either be wasted or utilized by the local people."
HuntingLife and many other pro-hunting outlets have defended Francis' actions, pointing out that giraffes are not endangered by extinction, and old and lonely giraffes can face slow and painful deaths as they struggle to defend themselves against predator attacks. It is also said that the local African tribes consume the giraffe meat and use make use of all parts of the animal.
Francis became a celebrity hunter in 2010 after winning a reality show called Extreme Huntress.
Gervais is known for his passions of environmentalism and animal welfare. Gervais' Facebook page is littered with posts trying to bring awareness toward the mass poaching of African rhinos and elephants, and he shared an image shaming a different giraffe hunter only a few days before posting the photo of Francis.
The next day, Gervais thanked fans for helping the image go viral.
"Your response to the trophy hunter killing that beautiful giraffe was immense and heartwarming," Gervais wrote on Facebook. "Because of you, that photo was seen by over 20 million people on my Facebook page alone. This is the power you have."