THE PINK DOLPHIN: Amazon jaguar pays price for Rio Olympics
Brazilian jaguar’s killing prompts calls for curbs on use of wild animals
Animal welfare groups condemn use of jungle cat ‘like a trophy on display’
Jaguar was shot having escaped after an Olympic torch ceremony
A jaguar, who lived in a local zoo, is used as part of an Olympic torch ceremony in Manaus. Shortly afterwards she was dead, killed by a soldier’s bullet. Photograph: Jair Araujo/AFP/Getty Images
Jonathan Watts in Rio de Janeiro
Animal welfare groups in Brazil have called for restrictions on the showcasing of once-wild animals following the lethal shooting of a jaguar that escaped its handlers after an Olympic torch ceremony in the Brazilian Amazon.
The 17-year-old female – which had been given the name Juma – was killed at a zoo in Manaus attached to a military training centre where the Olympic event took place.
The jungle cat – which is on the list of near-threatened species – was supposed to have been tranquillised, but freed itself from its shackles and approached a soldier who killed it with a single shot.
The military – which operates the zoo where Juma was kept – said the killing was necessary to protect the team that was trying to recapture her.
Jaguar shot dead just hours after posing with Olympic torch in Brazil
But the death has stirred up a furious reaction on social networks and among animal rights campaigners.
Conservation groups condemned the incident and said wild creatures should not be used to glorify the military, the Olympics or any human activity.
“It should not have been at the event. I don’t think the jaguar is a good mascot, especially like this – chained up, like a trophy on display,” said Carlos Durigan, director of the Wildlife Conservation Society in Brazil.
He said it was fundamentally wrong to cage a large predator that would normally roam over hundreds of square kilometres.
Similar outrage was expressed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
“When will we learn? Wild animals held captive and forced to do things that are frightening, sometimes painful, and always unnatural are ticking time bombs – our actions put them and humans at risk,” the group’s director Brittany Peet, said in a statement.
The slaughter of a jaguar – which is the mascot of the Brazilian Olympic team – is the latest in a long list of bad news for the organisers of Rio 2016, South America’s first Games.
It follows a Zika epidemic, pollution concerns, infrastructure collapses and comes amid the impeachment of President Dilma Rousseff and the worst recession in decades.
“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 Rio 2016 organising committee said in a public apology. “We guarantee that there will be no more such incidents at Rio 2016.”
Ipaam, the Amazonas state government authority that oversees the use of wild animals, confirmed it had received a request for authorisation for Juma to be present at the torch event. It denied that all captivity was wrong, noting that in many cases animals are rescued after their mothers are killed and that zoos can help in research and conservation. It is investigating the shooting.
Source: The Guardian
Gustavo López Ospina
Pieter Jan Brouwer
Assistant: Emilia Romero
The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice is associated with the International Environmental Mission, a grass roots citizens movement created by Chilean Senator Juan Pablo Letelier.
SELVA Vida Sin Fronteras acknowledges Kevin Schafer’s important contribution towards protecting the highly endangered Amazon pink fresh water dolphin. Title photographs of our “The Amazon Pink Dolphin’s Voice” were taken by Mr. Schafer.