08/04/2015 11:23 EDT | Updated 08/04/2016 05:59 EDT

U.S. hunter Sabrina Corgatelli defends trophy photos after posing with dead giraffe

A hunter from Idaho is defending herself from online criticism after posting photos on Facebook of herself with her kills, including a giraffe, from a recent legal hunt in South Africa.

Sabrina Corgatelli's photos are of the animals she killed during the hunting trip in a private game reserve near South Africa's Kruger National Park. 

Her trophies included a kudu, an impala, a wildebeest and a warthog, but it is the photo of herself posing with a giraffe wrapped around her that appears to have sparked most of the protest online. 

"Day #2 I got a amazing old Giraffe. Such a amazing animal!! I couldn't be any happier!! My emotion after getting him was a feeling I will never forget!!!" Corgatelli, an Idaho accountant, wrote in her Facebook post July 25. 

Her posts have drawn thousands of people to her Facebook pages, leaving comments and posts denouncing her photos and insulting her. Some of the comments threaten her, using violent, profane and misogynistic language. 

The criticism and threats drew the attention of the American media and Corgatelli appeared on the Today show Monday morning. 

"To me it's not just killing an animal, it's the hunt,'' she said in an interview with Carson Daly. "Everybody just thinks we're cold-hearted killers, and it's not that. There is a connection with the animal, and just because we hunt them doesn't mean we don't have a respect for them."

Much of the criticism of Corgatelli's photo focused on her choice of target. 

"Giraffes are very dangerous animals," she said on Today. "They could hurt you seriously very quickly."

Some of the posts on Facebook mention her place of work and threaten her job. 

"Everything I've done here is legal," she said in the interview. "How can an employer chastise you for something you do on your personal time that's legally done?"

The online uproar comes on the heels of the illegal killing of Cecil the lion, a beloved and popular attraction in Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. 

The head of Zimbabwe's safari association said the lion was unethically lured into the kill zone early in July and killed by American dentist Walter Palmer. 

The Facebook campaign against Corgatelli is also reminiscent of the online rage last summer over a similar series of photos that Texas teen Kendall Jones posted.