A jaguar that was made part of the Olympic torch ceremony held in the Brazilian Amazon city of Manaos was shot dead after it escaped from its handlers. On Monday, during the ceremony, which was taking place at a zoo next to a military facility, the jaguar approached a soldier even after it had been tranquilized.
The local organizing committee said to Reuters, “We made a mistake in permitting the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and unity, to be exhibited alongside a chained wild animal. This image goes against our beliefs and our values. We guarantee that there will be no more such incidents at Rio 2016.”
After Juma was tranquilized, the animal was still ominously approaching a soldier. He was then shot dead with a single gun to protect the soldier and the rest of the team.
According to animal behavior scientist, Joao Paulo Castro, the animal was probably stressed by the ceremony and could have felt threatened by the fire causing him to escape.
The event has caused an uproar from animal rights organizations and protection groups. PETA, through its director of captive animal law enforcement, Brittany Peet, said in a statement, "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."
According to IPAM, the Amazon state environmental authority in charge of overseeing the use of wild animals, the use of Juma was illegal. "No request was made to authorize the participation of the jaguar "Juma" in the event of the Olympic torch," they said in a statement.
This event is only the last one of a series of events that adds to the already marred Olympic Games organization for Rio 2016. There has already been a series of scandals around the organization of the games. Río de Janeiro’s governor declared a “state of calamity” as the state where the games are taking place is in bankruptcy.