A local Olympic organizing committee included a real, live jaguar named Juma in an Olympic torch ceremony in the Amazonian city of Manaus, Brazil, on Monday — after which a soldier shot the jaguar to death, Reuters reported.
The animal slipped free of its handlers following the ceremony, during which it was held in chains, at a zoo at the Brazilian military Jungle Warfare Instruction Center, according to the Associated Press. It then approached a soldier, even after it was tranquilized, prompting said soldier to kill it with a pistol, per Reuters.
"It escaped and ran off as it was being moved from one area to another in the zoo," Col. Luiz Gustavo Evelyn told Agence France-Presse. "To protect the handler, it was sacrificed."
"The animal participated in the event because the torch went through the zoo," Evelyn said, adding Juma was not wild, but a captivity-raised animal.
According to Reuters, animal rights activists are furious the jaguar was killed.
"We made a mistake in permitting the Olympic torch, a symbol of peace and unity, to be exhibited alongside a chained wild animal," the local organizing committee told Reuters 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."
Jaguars are a "near-threatened" species that humans have "eliminated from much of the drier northern parts of its range, as well as northern Brazil, the pampas scrub grasslands of Argentina and throughout Uruguay," according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources' Red List of Threatened Species.
"The jaguar is still an abundant species, but is threatened by habitat loss and persecution," the IUCN wrote. "Due to loss of habitat, poaching of prey and fragmentation of populations across portions of the range, this species is considered to be near-threatened."