Brazilian military kill jaguar at Olympic ceremony

Juma the jaguar (ABC News / YouTube)
Juma the jaguar (ABC News / YouTube)

A jaguar used for Brazil's Olympic torch ceremony was shot shortly afterwards by a soldier in the Brazilian Amazon city of Manaus on Monday.

Brazil's military said the animal, a 17-year-old female named Juma, was at a zoo attached to a military training centre when it slipped its collar and escaped from its handlers.

"It escaped and ran off as it was being moved from one area to another in the zoo," said Colonel Luiz Gustavo Evelyn, who's deployed in the area.

After a search Juma was found, and shot with four tranquiliser darts. But they failed to subside the beast, and it turned on a vet. It was then shot to death.

"To protect the handler, it was sacrificed," Colonel Evelyn said.

Animal rights groups have lashed out at the shooting, and questioned why the animal was involved in the Olympic event.

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

The local organising committee for Rio 2016 have apologised for the incident.

"We made a mistake in permitting the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and unity, to be exhibited alongside a chained wild animal," they said in a statement. "We guarantee that there will be no more such incidents at Rio 2016."

Ipaam, the Amazonas state government environmental authority that oversees the use of wild animals, says the use of Juma was illegal

"No request was made to authorise the participation of the jaguar "Juma" in the event of the Olympic torch," Ipaam said in a statement. They will now investigate the shooting.