The jaguar, 17-year-old Juma, accompanied the soldiers to an Olympic torch ceremony on Monday, according to The Telegraph. The animal represented the mascot of the Brazil team, which is a yellow jaguar cartoon. Afterward, the soldiers reportedly took it to a zoo, where it escaped its cage. The Telegraph reports the soldiers shot the animal with several tranquilizer darts, but were unable to contain it. When it attacked a veterinarian who appeared on the scene, they reportedly shot and killed the jaguar with bullets.
"It escaped and ran off as it was being moved from one area to another in the zoo," Colonel Luiz Gustavo Evelyn, the police officer who was present, told The Telegraph. “To protect the handler, it was sacrificed.”
The organizing committee Rio 2016 said in a statement released to Reuters that Juma shouldn't have been there in the first place. "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 day and age in which the display of such a magnificent creature 'brought to heel' as a symbol of power or influence is in the past," conservationist and big cat expert Luke Dollar told National Geographic. "I would hope that this incident will serve as a poignant indicator to the world at large that these practices are no longer acceptable."
Rio 2016 and Luke Dollar did not immediately return Complex's request for comment.