A torch ceremony that is meant to celebrate the spirit of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro ended in the death of a jaguar named Juma.
The Olympic flame is said to be a symbol of peace and unity. More importantly, it is a sign of friendship. For the torch relay, 12,000 people were given the task of carrying the Olympic flame across several parts of Brazil. Each bearer would carry the flame for about 200 meters. This would go on until the flame reaches its final stop at the opening ceremony of the Olympics at the Maracanã Stadium.
It’s a touching event, a true symbol of unity and peace. After one torch ceremony in the city of Manaus, however, something went horribly wrong.
According to a report from Mail Online, female jaguar Juma had taken part in the torch ceremony; a chain was firmly placed around her neck to help soldiers contain her. After the event, Juma was taken back to her zoo cage on a truck. However, the jaguar managed to escape. Upon seeing Juma loose, vets started firing tranquilizers at Juma. The jaguar began approaching a soldier. At this point, Juma was shot to death.
Following the incident, the organizing committee of Rio 2016 issued a statement to Reuters saying, “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.”
Their remarks, however, did little to quell the uproar of animal rights groups. In a statement, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) said:
Meanwhile, the group Animal Freedom Union based in Rio de Janeiro also issued a statement saying, “When will people (and institutions) stop with this sick need to show power and control by confining, taming and showcasing wild animals.”
Juma’s appearance during the torch ceremony has been placed under investigation. A spokesman for Ipaam, an Amazonas state government environmental authority overseeing the use of wild animals, said they did not receive a request to authorize the participation of Juma at the torch event.
The Brazilian Army can receive a fine of £600 to £60,000 should it be found that they had violated environmental regulations.