this is "nightline." >> tonight, trophy hunting backlash. after walter palmer allegedly poached cecil the lion and he is not the only one under fire tonight. many big game hunters brag about their kill photos online. and they claim they help conservation efforts. but is it true? plus, crowd funding care. with medical costs spiraling out of control some families are turning to the internet for help. but it doesn't always work. as their daughter faces surgery can these parents succeed with their online effort to raise money? why are luke brian, lady antebellum and keith urban all sharing the same stage? tonight raise them up.
♪ raise them up >> coming together for cma fest. >> but first the "nightline" five. ♪ 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, 8:00 gonna pop around the clock tonight ♪ >> at intel they make technology that gives you the power of the pc and fun of a tablet. >> i could turn it into a tablet and do my spread sheets? >> i said fun of a tablet. >> exactly. >> upgrade to a two-in-one with intel insi
dentist allegedly poached cecil the lion. many are fighting back in the face of public outrage tonight saying the money they pay is actually crucial to wildlife conservation efforts. do they have a point? here's abc's david wright. >> reporter: ever since news broke a week ago that cecil the lion was shot and killed in zimbabwe, by a minnesota dentist, allegedly illegally, big game hunters have seemed like an endangered species. now two american hunters are stepping forward. defending their hobby even posting their kills to instagram, fully aware of the backlash that is likely to bring. "nightline" spoke with them tonight via skype from south africa. you guys are on safari right now? >> we just finished. we just finished. >> reporter: what did you get? >> we shot a number of things. i shot a lion and crocodile.
sabrina shot a giraffe, zebra, warthog and impala. >> reporter: they say the comments they are receiving on instagram would make your blood run cold. give me a sense of the kind of comments that you have received? >> horrible. >> horrible. >> i want to chop you up in pieces. who says that? they tell me i amount heartless one. >> there upset at us for hunting an animal. yet they hope that we all die. it is shocking to me that they claim to be, you know, have a heart and compassion for life. >> reporter: a lot of rational people sympathize with the hunted not the hunters. >> murderers! terrorist! >> reporter: the question now is that anger justified or misplaced? this weekend a new york city landmark lit up in honor of cecil. the empire state building transformed into a towering projection screen.
the skyscraper with threatened and endangered species for the first time since king kong. among them zimbabwe's most famous lion. ty toys has come out with a cecil the lion beanie baby, proceed to benefit livon conservation. delta air lines will no longer, transport, lion, elephant, buffalo, rhino trophies. >> i'm the director here at allegheny general hospital in pittsburgh. >> reporter: they say he allegedly hunt aid lie >> reporter: they say he allegedly hunt aid ld a lion in april. both men in hiding. angry protesters stalking. >> justice for cecil! >> reporter: does any part of the anger that people are expressing give you pause before you pull that trigger? >> no. i'll tell you why. if they understood, if they came
to africa as many times as i have been here and saw with their own two eyes what kind of benefit the wildlife in these wild areas gets from the hunting that takes place they would have a much different understanding. >> reporter: how can you possibly are gau thgue hunting good for conservation efforts? >> hunting absolutely is the roe only tool paying for the wildlife conservation throughout africa. >> reporter: conservation groups dispute that. >> it is a fantasy what the wealthy, elite american hunters is doing is benefiting the species in the wild. this is about blood lust for entertainment. it is a thrill kill. when you take an individual animal, whether an elephant, rhino, or lion out of their family system and out of their eco system it does nothing to enhance conversation. >> reporter: many of the hunters also proclaim their hunts are helping to bolster the local economy. but a recent study by the international union for conservation of nature found
that hunting provide less than 1/3 of 1% of zimbabwe's gdp. accounts for less than 5% of the country's tourism. >> the vast majority of the money is not coming from trophy hunting, not supporting african conservation and not supporting the african people. >> reporter: hunting can be tricky to manage. even if certain areas like the national park are off limits for hunters it's not like these are fenced in areas. there is nothing to stop the game from wandering outside of the protected perimeters. that's what happened to cecil. >> i was enchanted by cecil, his magnificence, beauty and his, his lifestyle. >> reporter: david mcdonald, an oxford university wildlife biologist studying zimbabwe's lions for the past 20 years. 200 of them strapped with gps collars including cecil. >> we were aware that cecil had left the protection of the national park and after some time, some time his movements
came to an abrupt end. that's abad sign. >> they led trackers to the farm where cecil's carcass discarded, pelt and head cart add way for a trophy now confiscated by zimbabwe authorities. dr. palmer release aid statement insisting i deeply regret my pursuit of an activity i love and practice responsibly and legally resulted in the take of this lion. conservation groups including the humane society have long fought for the african lion to be placed on the endangered species list. if they were, american hunters could still hunt them legally but importing the trophies would be forbidden. there are fewer than 34,000 african lions left in the wild. and hunters kill an average of 6640 a year. nearly 2/3 of the trophies are brought back by american hunters, by far the biggest population of trophy hunters worldwide. if you couldn't bring the trophy
home, would you still want to kill it? >> yes. >> listen, i would want to hunt it. because i am a hunter. i am a predator. that's what i do. it is engrained in my dna. >> reporter: authorities in zimbabwe are demanding the extradition of walter palmer to face poaching charges. >> we are looking forward to his extradition. >> reporter: if it is fund to be illegal should dr. palmer have to go back and face those charges? >> i would never suggest that i think somebody shouldn't have to face the music. i think everybody should have to do that if they have commit aid crime. >> reporter: the u.s. is unlikely to extradite an american to zimbabwe, a country not exactly known for its commitment to due process. but there are u.s. laws in place to protect wildlife in foreign countries like the lacy act signed into law by president mckinley in 1900. even if they didn't break any laws, these hunters now feel caught in the cross hairs.
>> so many people, you know calling me a poacher because they don't even thivnk it is legal to hunt giraffe. before you speak make sure you know what you are speaking about. >> one key question, did dr. palmer know he was doing something illegal or as he says was he just trusting his african guide. either way, having killed cecil the lion, it's unlikely his life will ever be the same again. i'm david wright for "nightline" in london. next, what do you do when medical costs get out of control? these parents are trying to raise money online. where charitable causes receive billions of dollars in donations. ♪ ♪ >> and country music's greatest stars all in one place for cma fest. ♪ ♪ i sure had a lot on my mind when i got out of the hospital
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medical costs turning to the internet for help and having very different experiences with their crowd funding efforts. abc's neil karlinsky there with parents struggling to come up with the funds they need and what it takes to make a cause go viral. >> reporter: alicia wheatley is a mom on a mission. >> prayers, put it on your social media. >> reporter: pounding the pavement near her home in washington. >> i have a daughter. she is very young. >> reporter: desperate to raise money to pay for her daughter's health care. >> she needs eye surgery. >> reporter: sheila is 2 years old and suffering from amblioplia, an eye disorder, without surgery could go blind in her right eye. >> a campaign for her -- >> reporter: alicia helps old-fashioned fliers will get the word out about her newest approach to raise money an online crowd funding campaign on
giveforward.com. is it hard, you are going up to people, strangers, essentially asking them for money? >> it is hard. but at the same time i know what i am doing it for. so my pride and my, you know, i can't let that get in the way. >> come get the ball. >> reporter: while they wait for surgery sheila wears this eye patch. >> which eye? >> eye. >> reporter: a temporary solution. >> oh, so pretty. >> the stress of it is enough to drive anyone mad. the procedures and the amounts that they cost and all -- it's, it's not right. >> reporter: ray's military job was unexpectedly cut and their health insurance will run out in a matter of months. and what their future insurance will cover is uncertain. >> now we r in a pare in a posi didn't anticipate. we've done everything right to get where we are. we still can't afford health
care. >> reporter: the family set a crowd funding goal of $10,000. >> >> will you reach your goal? >> i think we will. if we don't. we'll come close to it. >> reporter: with medical bills the leading cause of bankruptcy in america, wheatley family one of many going on line for help. they have 14,000 medical fundraisers. most they say are people who actually have insurance like patrick and kristin wilkenson of san francisco. >> although our insurance is absolutely amazing and covered the majority of our son's treatment plan, the ongoing cost of his disease is unknown at this point. >> reporter: they have raised more than $50,000 on giveforward to care for their 4-month-old son phoenix. >> you are doing so good, sweetheart. >> reporter: phoenix needs a bone marrow transplant. >> the hardest part, you feel helpless. as parent. you are supposed to protect your
child. >> reporter: christen works for air b & b, her son's fund was sent worldwide, and took off from there raise dla$20,000 in hours. >> gives you faith in humanity again, you know? it was really unbelievable. >> reporter: phoenix's treatment is all consuming. >> this is our home. yeah. >> reporter: they have been living, eating and sleeping here in the hospital for months. >> paying for all the normal things in life is really hard when you are not necessarily getting a paycheck. >> reporter: with chemotherapy and upcoming transplant it is a long and costly road ahead for the wilkenson's. medical crowd funding has been successful for a lot of people. an estimated $2.7 billion raised in 2012. that number is only going up. but there have been cases of crowd funding fraud.
and with federal regulations still evolving, experts say do your research so the right family gets your donation. back in tacoma, sheila's fund raiser isn't going as well as they had hoped. about a month in, it only raised $610. >> did you feel like when you started this, you know i am going to wake up in a couple days check the website and bam. i am going to be there? >> i thought that people would come together. and that people would look at this little girl on all of the pictures, you know, like, like, like, like. i'm like, if they know this. they will definitely, $10, $20. it wasn't like that. it has not been like that at all. at all. >> reporter: unlike the wilkenson's, the wheatley's social network is small. for the most part not very wealthy. >> i don't have that many friend on facebook that is over 30 that have established saving accounts and all that. >> reporter: social media is like a foreign language to alicia though she turns to her
media savvy cousin for advice. >> when i go on her little twitter, i don't even know how to use twitter in all honesty. i don't use twitter. >> reporter: to pull heart strings, he suggests creating a hash tag. eyes for sheila. >> reporter: thinking of ways to help her brand this basically? >> yes, definitely. she doesn't have a strong social media presence so, you have to tap into other people's social media presence. >> reporter: early morning on the day of sheila's surgery her parents are still trying to get the word out. >> okay. we are going to make her sign, #eyesforsheila. very good. >> reporter: after a long day at the hospital, sheila is recovering. >> it went well. the doctor said there was no complications. the surgery was a success. and we are just happy that she is okay. she is still sleeping. this might be the only surgery,
but there also could be multiple other surgeries. >> reporter: after six months of this campaign on giveforward they raised $1,390. a far cry from their $10,000 goal. >> social media is not conducive for every socioeconomic walk of life. for us it has been a struggle. >> reporter: but they're not giving up. they have since started a new campaign on youcaring.com. >> look at the little toes. >> reporter: back in san francisco, baby phoenix got his long-awaited bone marrow transplant and is finally home. >> just being outside in the sun with the wind and seeing his reaction to birds and people and cars, it's incredible. >> reporter: medical crowd funding is not a magic bullet. as the saying goes, necessity is the mother of invention for these families and thousand like them. the need is only growing.
next, why the hottest country stars are raising them up together for cma fest. ♪ now we're going to raise them up ♪ ♪ ♪ >> announcer: abc news "nightline" brought to you by -- i'm gonna crack like nobody's watching and eat like i skipped lunch. why? because red lobster's crabfest is back. and i'm diving into so much crab, so many ways. like crab lover's dream with luscious snow and king crab legs, and rich crab alfredo or this snow crab bake. who knew crab goes with everything? whoever put crab on this salmon, that's who. with flavors like these, i'm almost too excited to eat! hey i said almost. and now that it's back get crackin' while you still can. at intel, they make technology that lets a device be a laptop and a tablet, so you can put two in one.
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having necessary school supplies can mean the difference between success and failure. the day i start, i'm already behind. i never know what i'm gonna need. new school, new classes, new kids. it's hard starting over. to help, sleep train is collecting school supplies for local foster children. bring your gift to any sleep train, and help a foster child start the school year right. not everyone can be a foster parent, but anyone can help a foster child. if there is one thing country stars know how to do it is throw down for a good party. and that's exactly what happened when abc's rachel smith went to nashville for cma fest.
♪ it is a country party unlike any other ♪ with fans from all over the world that flash to nashville for the cma fest. the biggest names in the business are all here, luke bryant performing "i see you." >> starting out being a new artist i remember dreaming of the opportunity to come. i just love being a part of the experience. ♪ ♪ superstar lady antebellum belting out "long stretch of love". >> they're getting to see every one of their favorite country artists in one weekend. and that's rare. and keith urban lighting up the cma stage with "raise them up" with eric church. >> there is a huge all. people come to nashville i. a lot come that have never experienced anything like it
before. >> reporter: cma fest is more than big names. it is a chance for the fans to get up close to their idols. >> connects the fans to the artist. a really cool thing we do every year. >> reporter: for "nightline," rachel smith in nashville, tennessee. ♪ country >> don't miss cma fest tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. eastern right here on abc. thank you for watching abc news. tune in to "good morning america" tomorrow. and as always, we are online, 24/7 on our "nightline" facebook page and at abcnews.com.