Rio de Janeiro environmental officials are hoping to make the endangered muriqui the mascot of the 2016 Olympics.
According to the state's environmental ministry, the muriqui or woolly spider monkey is one of several animals native to the state that is at risk of extinction. The monkey is native to the Atlantic rainforest, which covers several Brazilian states, as well as Paraguay, Argentina and Uruguay. Centuries of deforestation and development have seen the rainforest shrink from 1.2 million square kilometres to under 100 thousand square kilometres today.Read more here.
At the launch of their "Muriqui Rio 2016" campaign, environmentalists displayed merchandise bearing the proposed mascot. Andre Ilha - the protected regions and biodiversity director at Brazil's State Environmental Institute - said the woolly spider monkey makes the ideal mascot for the Olympic Games. "It is a very peaceful animal, so it symbolises that spirit of co-operation associated with the games," he explained. "It's a very agile animal that gets around by swinging in trees. It almost looks like an Olympic athlete."