Jaguar, Olympic 'mascot,' shot dead after torch ceremony
Saturday, June 25, 2016, 3:06 PM - A jaguar used during the Olympic torch ceremony in Manaus, Brazil, was shot and killed by a soldier after it escaped from handlers. Juma, a 17-year-old female jaguar, served as a mascot figure for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Shortly after the torch ceremony, Juma escaped from her handlers. She was shot with tranquilizers but continued to advance toward a soldier, the Brazilian army said in a statement.
The soldier fired a single pistol shot at the jaguar's head, killing it.
Juma's death led to public outrage, prompting an apology from the local Olympic Games organizing committee.
"We made a mistake in permitting the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and unity, to be exhibited alongside a chained wild animal," the local organizing committee Rio 2016 said in a statement. "This image goes against our beliefs and our values."
The jaguar has gone extinct in Uruguay and El Salvador, and it is currently identified as a near-threatened species, the International Union for Conservation of Nature says.
Many animal rights organizations have called to question the flawed policy toward wild animals -- especially following the killing of a gorilla at Cincinnati zoo and later alligators at Orlando's Walt Disney World, Reuters reports.
"When will we learn? Wild animals held captive and forced to do things that are frightening, sometimes painful, and always unnatural are ticking time bombs — our actions put them and humans at risk," said Brittany Peet, director of captive animal law enforcement at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), in a statement.
According to the Amazonas state government environmental authority (Ipaam), the use of Juma at the Olympic torch ceremony was illegal, Reuters notes. This division of government oversees the use of wild animals.
"No request was made to authorize the participation of the jaguar "Juma" in the event of the Olympic torch," reads an official statement from Ipaam. The group is investigating the incident.
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Thumbnail image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.