Jaguar shot dead at Olympic torch ceremony in Brazil

A Brazilian soldier killed the rare animal with a single gunshot after it escaped from its handlers in the Amazon city of Manaus.
June 21, 2016, 9:25pm
Photo par Gustavo Amador/EPA

A rare jaguar that was being used as a prop in an Olympic torch ceremony in Brazil was shot dead on Monday after the animal escaped from its handlers.

The female jaguar, known as Juma, approached a soldier after a ceremony in the Brazilian Amazon city of Manaus. The soldier killed the large cat, which had already been tranquilized, with a single gunshot.

"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 local organizing committee Rio 2016 said in a statement, adding, "We guarantee that there will be no more such incidents at Rio 2016."

Videos from the event showed the jaguar with a large chain around its neck tethered to a long wooden pole held by two soldiers.

Com o Simba de olho????, o beijo da @ChamaOlimpica bem em frente a sede do CIGS em Manaus. #TourDaTocha pic.twitter.com/hLA76MNNQ8
— Brasil 2016 (@Brasil2016) June 20, 2016

O 1° sargento Edney Tomazini teve um presentão de aniversário hoje. Completou 40 anos e conduziu a @ChamaOlimpica! pic.twitter.com/Js3dv7dR0v
— Brasil 2016 (@Brasil2016) June 20, 2016

The shooting has sparked outrage among animal rights groups, which questioned why the animal was involved in the Olympic event in the first place. A smiling yellow jaguar known as Ginga is the mascot of the Brazilian Olympic team.

Related: The Olympics won't be cancelled over Zika, so keep it in your pants and use bug spray

"When will people (and institutions) stop with this sick need to show power and control by confining, taming and showcasing wild animals?" the Rio de Janeiro-based animal rights group Animal Freedom Union said on its Facebook page.

The jaguar is a nearly threatened species that has already been wiped out in Uruguay and El Salvador, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

The use of Juma at the event was illegal, according to Ipaam, the Amazonas state government environmental authority that 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," Ipaam said in a statement.

Ipaam said it is investigating the incident.

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