Ashley Benson Angers Fans With Cecil the Lion Halloween Costume

AP Images/Invision
Ashley Benson

The 'Pretty Little Liars' actress drew criticism for dressing up as the slain animal.

Ashley Benson is getting an early jump on her Halloween costume — and is getting bashed online for her initial pick.

The Pretty Little Liars actress posted an Instagram photo on Tuesday of what she referred to as a costume of Cecil the Lion, the beloved animal who was lured out of a protected area by a hunting guide in July and killed with a bow and arrow by Minnesota dentist Walter Palmer. Palmer has since issued a statement saying he "deeply" regrets killing the lion and that he didn't know it was such a beloved animal.

Various screengrabs of Benson's original photo show the caption, "Help! Can’t decide on my Halloween costume this year! What do you guys think of this cecil the lion costume? @yandy #thanksyandy #halloweencostume."

However, her post has been flooded with negative comments on her costume description, calling it "offensive" and in poor taste. "How dare you make fun of a lion who innocently died from a inhuman act!" said one user, and another saying, "It's a shame lions can't wear dead ignorant humans as costumes. Totally unaware douche."

Others claim the Internet is just overreacting, as one commenter said, "I love that you chose to celebrate the life of the beautiful Cecil. For real people back off she's not condoning animal cruelty." Another supposed, "People need to relax... she isn't disrespecting Cecil... she obviously supports the cause. I think its as innocent as someone who loves Michael Jackson and dresses up as him.. most likely one of the most popular costumes to date. People need to stop taking things so seriously and not assume the worst in people."

Benson then changed the caption to a more generalized version ("What do you guys think of this lion costume?") and posted an apology to Instagram that attributed the original caption to her management.

"Yesterday’s post was in poor taste and I absolutely regret all of the hurt that photo caused," she wrote. "The caption that was posted was incorrect and my costume was not Cecil the Lion, when I saw that, I contacted my management who handled the post and had it immediately changed. I recognize that I am responsible for everything posted on my social accounts and this was an unfortunate oversight. I am a supporter of Animal conservation and I will be donating all the proceeds of this deal to the World Wildlife Fund. I love you all and I apologize if I let you down."

See the now-edited post below.


A photo posted by Ashley Benson (@itsashbenzo) on

Oct. 8, 6:30 a.m. Updated with apology statement.