The Olympic Games in Brazil may be remembered most for the list of woes it has accumulated as Rio 2016 approaches the August games. Now the death of a jaguar has cast a longer shadow over the event.
Images of a jaguar in a heavy metal collar and chains as the Olympic flame was passed from one runner to the next were quickly followed by news of the animal’s death. Juma, a 17-year old jaguar born into captivity at a zoo on a military base, was apparently brought out to provide a dramatic image at the Olympic ceremony. When he escaped and approached a soldier, he was shot and killed. As the public learned of Juma’s death. it caused worldwide outrage.
In my novel, Threshold, Duma is a jaguar born in the Sky Islands–mountain ranges that span the U.S. – Mexico border. He wanders into an area near Nogales, Arizona where surrounding cattle and sheep ranches lure him closer to human settlements. Duma is sighted and captured. Readers follow him from one facility to another while his fate is determined.
The role of zoos and aquariums is being reconsidered as the public is less comfortable with animals on exhibit. Is there a new role for zoos in the 21st century?
Research with dolphins, grey parrots, chimpanzees, and elephants, among others, show these fellow earthlings share similar life’s experiences as humans do. The movie Blackfish which revealed the stresses on killer whales in captivity, and the recent killing of Harambe, a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo, are just two recent examples that have furthered discussions about our responsibilities to the animals we love to see at zoos and enjoy knowing may still inhabit natural areas.
The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, an AZA accredited institution, is one of several settings in Threshold. As the story unfolds, readers learn that climate change is causing stress on animals and keepers alike. The Desert Museum is a leader in care and exhibition of animals for public education. Explore ASDM’s website and publications to learn more.
TELL US WHAT YOU THINK ABOUT THE ROLE OF ZOOS AND AQUARIUMS. POST YOUR COMMENTS ON THIS POST.
Update: Here is the latest in a discussion at the Center for Humans and Nature: