With just over a month to go to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games, the Olympic torch is passing through Brazil in the traditional relay. Although the torch is considered a symbol of unity and peace, the relay turned deadly in the city of Manaus. A soldier shot and killed a female jaguar named Juma, who was used as an extra in the ceremony, after she escaped from her handlers. Activists are condemning the use of Juma in a situation that likely would have been stressful for her.
The jaguar was shot with four tranquilizer darts, and then a soldier shot her with a pistol. Juma was likely upset by the commotion, according to University of Brasilia scientist Joao Paulo Castro. He told BBC Brasil, “It’s neither healthy nor advisable to subject an animal to such a situation, with lots of noise and people. Often, jaguars already are stressed by being kept in captivity, that’s only compounded when they’re exposed to hubbub.”
Related: Criminal charges possible in Cinncinnati Zoo gorilla Harambe’s death
The local committee that organized the event issued a statement saying they made a “mistake” to display the Olympic torch next to a “chained wild animal.” They said, “We guarantee that there will be no more such incidents at Rio 2016.”
According to the World Wildlife Fund, jaguars are “near threatened,” and in the past they worked with the Brazil government to protect swaths of the Amazon forest as a habitat for the animals.
Ipaam, the government authority that manages use of animals, said it was actually illegal to use Juma in the ceremony. They are currently investigating her death.
Animal rights groups from around the world condemned the incident. Rio de Janeiro’s Animal Freedom Union said on their Facebook page, “When will people (and institutions) stop with this sick need to show power and control by confining, taming, and showcasing wild animals?”
Via the BBC
Images via screenshot and Wikimedia Commons