Jaguar used in Rio Olympics torch event shot dead in Brazil

DAILY SABAH WITH AGENCIES
ISTANBUL
Published 22.06.2016 15:33
Brazilian physiotherapist Igor Simoes Andrade poses for picture next to jaguar Juma as he takes part in the Olympic Flame torch relay in Manaus, Brazil, June 20, 2016. (Reuters Photo)
Brazilian physiotherapist Igor Simoes Andrade poses for picture next to jaguar Juma as he takes part in the Olympic Flame torch relay in Manaus, Brazil, June 20, 2016. (Reuters Photo)

A jaguar that was used as part of the Olympic torch event in Rio on Monday was shot dead after it escaped its handlers.

"Juma" the jaguar had taken part in the event in chains and as the event came to a close at the Jungle Warfare Instruction Center Zoo in Manaus, she managed to escape.

The Brazilian army released a statement saying that a group of military members and veterinarians had worked to recapture Juma and although they initially shot her with a tranquilizer dart, a soldier was forced to shoot the jaguar down after she approached another soldier.

"We made a mistake when we allowed the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and union of different people, to be exhibited next to a chained wild animal," the Rio 2016 organizing committee said in a statement.

The committee further stated that the scene contradicted their belief and values.

"We are very saddened by what happened after the torch relay and guarantee we will not witness any other situation like this one during the Rio 2016 games," the statement read.

According to its most recent study in 2008, the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCNNR) have labelled jaguars as a near-threatened species due to its increased habitat loss and persecution. The study states that jaguars are often shot on site, despite legislation designed to protect the species. Although hunting jaguars for their fur has gone down since the 1970s, there is still a demand for jaguar paws, teeth, and other products.

They are also the largest cats in the Americas.

The incident has understandably angered many animal-rights groups and conservationists.

"The day and age in which the display of such a magnificent creature 'brought to heel' as a symbol of power or influence is in the past, and I would hope that this incident will serve as a poignant indicator to the world at large that these practices are no longer acceptable," Luke Dollar, a conservation scientist for National Geographic's Big Cats Initiative, told National Geographic. "The symbol of the jaguar, in the absence of one on a chain, is just as powerful, and — I would argue — much more compassionate."

The incident with Juma the jaguar has now been added to the ever-growing list of zoo animals being shot to death. Last month at the Cincinnati zoo, Harambe the gorilla was shot dead after a boy fell into his zoo enclosure and in May two lions were killed in zoo in Chile after a man jumped into their enclosure in order to commit suicide.

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