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Apology from Rio 2016: Amazon Jaguar Shot dead at Olympic Torch Ceremony

The jaguar was earlier tranquilized and was killed by a single gunshot from a soldier after it escaped from handlers

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Brazilian Jaguar shot dead in Rio Olympics 2016. Image source: Brazilian Army
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  • A tranquilized jaguar was utilized in an Olympic Torch Ceremony on Tuesday, June 21
  • The jaguar was shot dead by a soldier to save his life after it escaped from handlers
  • The jaguar is an endangered species in the Americas

Rio 2016 organizers issued an apology on Tuesday, June 21, after a jaguar that featured in an Olympic torch ceremony was shot dead in the Amazonian city of Manaus.

The jaguar, which had earlier been tranquilized, was killed by a single gun shot from a soldier after it escaped from handlers, the Brazilian army said in a statement.

The army said the soldier had been forced to shoot the animal to protect himself from being mauled, Xinhua reported.

“We made a mistake in permitting the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and unity, to be exhibited alongside a chained wild animal,” Rio 2016 said in a statement.

“This image goes against our beliefs and our values. We guarantee that there will be no more such incidents at Rio 2016.”

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Brazilian mascot, Ginga. Image courtesy: Wikimedia commons

The jaguar, named Juma, was the real-life version of Brazil’s Olympic team toy mascot, known as Ginga.

Animal rights groups questioned why Juma was used in the ceremony. Moments before being fatally wounded, the animal featured in photographs alongside the Olympic torch while shackled by chains.

“When will people (and institutions) stop with this sick need to show power and control by confining, taming and showcasing wild animals?” Brazilian animal rights group Animal Freedom Union said on Facebook.

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According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the jaguar is an endangered species in the Americas. It’s population has fallen by 30 per cent since the mid-1980s.

Ipaam, Brazil’s Amazonas state environmental authority, said it had launched an investigation in the incident.

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

-prepared by Saurabh Bodas (with inputs from IANS), an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @saurabhbodas96

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  • Vrushali Mahajan

    As jaguars are endangered in America, the RIO 2016 should’ve avoided using it for the torch ceremony as there could’ve be many unwanted things happening

  • devika todi

    recently, i’ve read many articles that complain about the harmless killing of many endangered animals. what has this world come to?

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Brazillians at a Disadvantage Due To Loss Of Cuban Doctors

The former health minister said the doctors were not only highly qualified, but specialists in rural medicine, something that Brazil's health system badly lacks.

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Brazil, cuban doctors
Foreign physicians — mainly Cuban — arrive at the University of Brasilia for a meeting with the Brazilian Health Minister, in Brasilia on Aug. 26, 2013. The Brazilian government hired thousands of foreign doctors due to the lack of medical professionals. VOA

Millions of Brazilians may be left without access to doctors due to the end of a program that brought Cuban physicians to rural and dangerous areas in Brazil, the former health minister who helped create the initiative said Thursday.

The Cuban government on Wednesday said it would end the program after Brazilian President-elect Jair Bolsonaro said it could only continue if several conditions were met

Bolsonaro, a former army captain, campaigned in part on promises to take a hard line against left-leaning governments. As a congressman, the far-right leader often complained about the Cuban doctors’ program and tried to end it.

In a phone interview, former Health Minister Alexandre Padilha said the decision to pull out would leave millions of Brazilians without access to doctors.

Padilha said Cuban doctors were in 2,800 cities and towns — and they were the only doctors in 1,700 of those towns. Padilha said the initiative was launched in 2013 because local doctors could not be found for many positions.

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Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro talks to the media, in Brasilia, Brazil. VOA

“This will have an immediate and terrible impact on the health care system,” said Padilha. “Cuban doctors are in the most vulnerable areas. They are in the Amazon, rural towns and in slums.”

Brazil, which includes the largest portion of the Amazon basin, is a vast country, a little bit larger than the continental United States. Many areas, particularly in the Amazon and historically poor Northeast region, are sparsely populated and lacking basic infrastructure.

After Cuba’s announcement Wednesday, Bolsonaro made a blistering critique of the program. Frequently referring to the Cuban government as a “dictatorship,” he said the program was “slave work” because the Cuban government keeps 70 percent of doctors’ salaries. He also said Brazil had no way to verify if the doctors were truly qualified.

Neither Bolsonaro nor the Cuban government has said when the estimated 8,500 Cuban doctors currently in Brazil would be leaving. Bolsonaro said Cuban doctors who asked for asylum would get it, though he stopped short of saying Brazil would provide that to any Cuban who asked.

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In this Aug. 30, 2013 file photo, Cuban doctors observe a dental procedure during a a training session at a health clinic in Brasilia, Brazil. VOA

Bolsonaro, who takes office Jan. 1, said he had signaled the program could only continue if doctors directly received their salaries from Brazil, were able to bring their families during their assignments and had their credentials verified.

“We have no proof that they are really doctors and able to take on these functions,” Bolsonaro said.

Padilha said the program, passed by Congress, already includes an evaluation of the doctors’ credentials and language training; Brazil’s national language is Portuguese and Cuba’s is Spanish.

Also Read: Spix’s Macaw Parrot from Brazil Is Now Extinct

The former health minister said the doctors were not only highly qualified, but specialists in rural medicine, something that Brazil’s health system badly lacks. He said the salary structure was something the Cuban government had worked out with more than 60 countries that participate in the program, and not something specific to Brazil.

“Bolsonaro doesn’t understand that a doctor doesn’t just practice medicine for money,” said Padilha. “Doctors who work in the poorest areas are not just thinking about money.” (VOA)