Rio Olympics Jaguar ‘Mascot’ Shot And Killed During Escape Attempt

Yet another tragic wild animal death. A Rio Olympics jaguar “mascot” was shot and killed as she tried escaping from her handlers.

The incident occurred after an Olympic torch relay ceremony that the animal was involved in.

TMZ reports that a passing of the torch in the town of Manaus on its way to Rio is where the female jaguar, named Juma, met her tragic fate.

Juma, normally captive at the zoo, was reportedly sedated during the ceremony. Just when she was put back inside her cage, she made a break for freedom. When the Olympics jaguar approached a soldier, he shot her. According to the Amazon Military Command, the killing aligned with safety procedure measures.

As TMZ reveals, Brazil’s Olympic team mascot is a yellow jaguar, known as Ginga.

Reuters reports that local organizing committee Rio 2016 released a statement.

“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 committee said “We guarantee that there will be no more such incidents at Rio 2016.”

Outrage from animal rights activists has already heated up. Many wonder why an animal was part of the Rio Olympics torch ceremony in the first place.

“When will people (and institutions) stop with this sick need to show power and control by confining, taming and showcasing wild animals?” the Animal Freedom Union from Rio de Janeiro wrote on its Facebook page.

According to Ipaam, the Amazonas state government environmental authority that monitors the use of wild animals said Juma was illegally used for the Olympic torch event.

“No request was made to authorize the participation of the jaguar ‘Juma’ in the event of the Olympic torch,” Ipaam said in a statement.

The jaguar has been practically eliminated in Uruguay and El Salvador, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It’s nearly an endangered species.

Ipaam went on to say that authorities are investigating the incident.

Fox News had an extended version of the statement released by the Brazil Amazon Military Command regarding the Olympics jaguar death.

“Efforts were made to capture the animal by firing tranquilizers. But even though the animal was hit, it still advanced towards a soldier that was stationed nearby,” Brazil’s Amazon Military Command said in a statement. “As a safety procedure and aiming to protect the soldier and the handlers, a pistol was used to shoot the animal. She died at the scene.”

As the report added, Juma was a jaguar at CIGS zoo, “which is part of the army’s jungle warfare-training center and the home to numerous animals captured by soldiers on patrol.”

If it’s found that the Brazilian army breached environmental regulations in its use of the jaguar for the torch ceremony, it could face a fine of between $800 and $8,800.

The killing of the jaguar has led to anger, with many calling out the army for acting “irresponsibly” and “incompetently.”

According to the report, Juma was held at bay by two soldiers with chains around her neck. When she was put back in a cage on a truck, she leaped out and was shot and killed by a soldier.

A chain of tragedy has plagued wild animals the last 30 or so days. Harambe the gorilla was killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after he encountered a toddler in his enclosure, and a mother bear that attacked a marathon runner in New Mexico because she was protecting her cubs was tracked down and euthanized by wildlife officials. Her cubs will be captured until they’re old enough to release back into the wild.

The Rio Olympics jaguar death is the latest of a disturbing trend in doomed animal stories.

[Image via Shuttestock]