Horses have participated in every Olympic Summer Game since 1912. At the Rio Games, riders have described their horse companions as "smart and funny," "quiet . . . and very sensitive," and "very sweet and evolved into a very solid competitor." Some competitors describe the relationship between the rider and the horse as the most important aspect of equestrian sporting. Steffan Peters, who competed in his fourth Olympic games this year, raved about his horse, Legolas, and commented that "The love for the animals is very, very evident."
Juma the Jaguar also participated in the Olympics this year, but not as a competitor. Juma was kept by the Amazon Military Command (CMA) and often participated in parades and other official events, including an Olympic torch relay ceremony. Athletes posed next to Juma while monitored by CMA forces. Unfortunately, a few minutes after the ceremony concluded, Juma managed to break free of of his restraints and move towards his keepers. At that point, the CMA opened fire, killing Juma. The incident has sparked criticism over not only the way Juma died, but also how he was made to live. As explained by Diogo Lagroteria, a veterinarian from Brazil's environmental news agency, "This type of activity is inadequate. The whole world discusses ethics and animal welfare and, in some places, has already banned the participation of these wild animals in circuses. This activity on the part of the military is unnecessary and pure vanity." Jaguars are a protected species in Brazil. Environmental officials are reviewing Juma's death, and charges could be filed against the CMA.
For more information, see:
Kevin Iole, Yahoo! Sports, "The unlikely story of a 51-year-old Olympian...and his horse," August 2, 2016, http://sports.yahoo.com/news/the-unlikely-story-of-a-51-year-old-olympian-and-his-horse-223049024.html
Stephen Messenger, The Dodo, "Jaguar Killed Moments After Being Used In Olympic Torch Ceremony," June 21, 2016, https://www.thedodo.com/jaguar-killed-after-olympics-ceremony-1873834356.html?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=share