The run-up to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games has already been controversial (due to financial uncertainty, delays in construction, working conditions and so on). But this time the organisers of the world's largest sporting event are facing a much larger scandal.
On Monday June 20 in Manaus, the capital of the Amazonas state in northern Brazil, a jaguar who escaped after taking part in the Olympic torch relay event was shot down by two soldiers.
The torch is expected to make its way around the country before it gets to Rio for the opening of the Games on August 5. It's always an occasion for parades and festivities of all sorts. On this particular day, the procession passed by the city zoo, where the jaguar joined the celebration as a symbol of the Amazon.
During the ceremony, the feline named Juma was chained up so the athletes could take photos next to him. But once the festivities had ended and the jaguar was making his way from one enclosure to another, he managed to escape.
The soldiers initially used a tranquilliser dart but eventually shot him down with a pistol, claiming that the tranquilliser was taking too long to come into effect. The Rio 2016 Organisational Committee has admitted making "a mistake".
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.
Though a sad event in itself, the death of an exploited animal is made all the more heartbreaking because the jaguar is an endangered species. Juma had previously been rescued from poachers, just like so many other animals living in captivity with the GIGS.
The IPAAM, the Amazonas state government environmental authority, admitted in a press release that they had received no request “to authorize the participation of the jaguar ‘Juma” in the event of the Olympic torch".The incident has been highly criticised across the Internet, with thousands condemning such a barbaric sacrifice ofazoo animal. The Brazilian vet Diogo Lagroteriatakesthe words fromour mouth:
This kind of activity (using wild animals for parades, ceremonies, etc) is completely inappropriate, useless and symptomatic of the true vanity of humankind.