- Rebecca Francis' photo with a giraffe was shared by Ricky Gervais
- Francis was threatened on Twitter for the picture
- Francis, a hunter, said the giraffe was "close to death" and became food for locals
(CNN)Five years ago, Rebecca Francis posed for a photo while lying next to a dead giraffe.
This week, she got threatened for her action.
The trouble started Monday, when comedian Ricky Gervais tweeted the photo with a question.
"What must've happened to you in your life to make you want to kill a beautiful animal & then lie next to it smiling?" Gervais wrote.
In the past three days, his tweet has been retweeted almost 30,000 times. A number of people insulted and threatened Francis in response to the giraffe photo and others featuring her.
On the website rebeccafrancis.com, there are photos of Francis with other animals, including a lion, which other Twitterers responded to.
Francis, who has appeared on the NBC Sports Network outdoor lifestyle show "Eye of the Hunter" and was the subject of an interview with Hunting Life in late March, responded in a statement to HuntingLife.com on Tuesday, which was posted on its Facebook page.
The death came about, she said, because she was asked by others on an African hunt to "preserve" him for the local people.
"(The locals) showed me this beautiful old bull giraffe that was wandering all alone. He had been kicked out of the herd by a younger and stronger bull. He was past his breeding years and very close to death," she said. "They asked me if I would preserve this giraffe by providing all the locals with food and other means of survival. ... I chose to honor his life by providing others with his uses and I do not regret it for one second. (The locals) did not waste a single part of him. I am grateful to be a part of something so good."
According to the Giraffe Conservation Foundation, there are about 80,000 giraffes in Africa, a decline of 60,000 in the past 15 years.
On a website called rebeccafrancis.com, where the photo is posted, Francis describes herself as a longtime outdoors enthusiast and a fan of bow-hunting.
"I prefer bowhunting, and the animals I have taken with a bow include: a 10 1/2 ft. brown bear, black bear, shiras moose, alaskan moose, dall sheep, stone sheep, desert bighorn ram, rocky mountain bighorn ram, mule deer, whitetail deer, elk, mountain goat, antelope, arapawa ram, kudu, zebra, black wildebeest, giraffe, springbuck, blesbuck, lynx, badger, and squirrel," she writes. "I have also taken many of the same species and more with a rifle."
She has achieved the "Full Curl of North American sheep" with a bow, according to the Hunting Life interview, and hopes to achieve the "Super 10." The latter, according to liveoutdoors.com, "entails the taking of one animal from the ten basic North American species: bears, cats, deer, elk, caribou, moose, bison/muskox, goat, antelope and sheep."
Tom Opre, the producer and co-host of "Eye of the Hunter," says she won the first season of "Extreme Huntress," an online offshoot of "Eye," and co-hosted a handful of "Eye" episodes.
The rebeccafrancis.com website was apparently last updated in 2013, though it makes mention of a 2015 TV series called "Sheep Shape" on the Sportsman Channel.
CNN has reached out to Francis for comment.