Using Jaguar in Olympic Ceremony Ends Up Being Terrible Idea

It was chained up during Brazil torch relay
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 22, 2016 12:19 AM CDT
A jaguar walks in the Jardim Zoo in Brasilia, Brazil.   (AP Photo/Eraldo Peres)

(Newser) – Using a live jaguar at an Olympic torch relay ceremony—what could go wrong? Officials in Manaus, Brazil, discovered the answer to that question Monday when the animal was shot dead after escaping its leash and approaching one of the soldiers sent to recapture it, Reuters reports. In what the local Olympic organizing committee now admits was a terrible idea, Juma the jaguar was chained up on display during the ceremony at the Jungle Warfare Instruction Center. The military described Juma "as a docile animal used to living among people at the center," which has a zoo attached to it, though experts say jaguars are wild animals that can never be considered domesticated, the AP reports.

"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," the Olympic committee said in a statement, adding that "we will not see more situations like this in the Rio 2016 Games." The regional environmental protection agency says the use of the jaguar, a near-threatened species, appears to have been illegal and that it's investigating the incident. PETA issued a statement urging "everyone who is upset by the needless death of this jaguar, the gorilla Harambe, or countless other exploited wild animals to stay far away from any business that puts living beings on display for human amusement." (In Rio, several athletes have already been robbed.)

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