Juma the jaguar, the Olympic mascot, has been shot dead

Juma the jaguar took part in an Olympic torch ceremony in Manaus, Brazil. She was shot dead after trying to break free.

Juma couldn’t bear being kept in a cage and being subjected to humiliations and deprivation, but this led her to face death. Juma was a female jaguar (Panthera onca), America’s largest feline threatened with extinction mainly because of deforestation, poaching and human-wildlife conflicts.

Il giaguaro Juma
Juma being shown up during the Olympic torch ceremony © Afp/Diario do Amazonas/Jair Araujo

Why Juma was killed

Juma was used – chained up – in an Olympic torch ceremony in Manaus, Brazil. Following the event, when her handlers were trying to take her back to her cage, Juma escaped. Soldiers firstly shot the animal with tranquilisers but failed to stop it, so it was shot dead.

La torcia olimpica
Juma was the Olympic mascot during the torch ceremony

Call of the forest

“It escaped and ran off as it was being moved from one area to another in the zoo,” said Colonel Luiz Gustavo Evelyn from the Centro de Instrução de Guerra na Selva (CIGS). “To protect the handler, it was sacrificed”. Juma was probably under stress, scared, and disoriented and felt the primordial desire of going back to the Amazon, her one and only home.

Human supremacy on animals

Juma’s death was an accident, but it is another example of how people abuse animals, as they were totally subjected to our will. The presence of a wild, rare and threatened animal was useless and cruel and reminds us of how animals are exhibited in circuses.

Giaguaro nel Pantanal brasiliano
The jaguar (Panthera onca), symbol of the Amazon, is threatened by habitat loss

An investigation will be opened

According to IPAM (Instituto de Proteção Ambiental do Amazonas), using the jaguar in a ceremony was illegal. “Nobody asked permission for using Juma in the Olympic torch ceremony,” wrote IPAAM, which also opened an investigation.

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