Here's the story behind the viral photo of a kid playing with two jaguars

Tiago Silveira, a 12-year-old boy from Brazil, became a viral sensation after a photo of him posing next to two jaguars in the water hit the Internet.

In the image, the boy appeared sitting in the water smiling at the camera while a dog and two jaguars were next to him.

Even though the mere fact that Tiago was posing with those animals was shocking, the aspect that attracted more attention was that one of the felines placed its paw on his shoulder, just as if it was side-hugging him.

Many people thought that the photo was fake. However, BBC Brazil interviewed Tiago and his family to learn more about it, and they explained that the boy has played with jaguars since he was a toddler.

Leandro Silveira and Anah Jacomo, Tiago’s parents, are biologists who work in the Instituto Onça-Pintada (Jaguar Conservation Fund) in Goias. Their goal is to study and preserve the biggest feline in the continent. Their child grew up surrounded by jaguars, which is why he is not afraid of playing with them in such a way.

Leandro, who posted the now-famous image, set clear that there are boundaries to ensure his safety, and that Tiago follows them and knows how to behave. “It just comes naturally for him,” added the proud father.

One of the things that Leandro has told his son was that jaguars are not social animals. However, when they want “proximity,” they would get close. Learning their body language is also crucial as it would tell when they want people to pet them or to leave them alone.

Anah and Leandro even provided photos from the past wherein Tiago appeared feeding a baby jaguar with a bottle, proving that they were not lying. The boy confessed that his relationship with the animals was based on love and respect and that he always enjoyed helping his parents take care of the jaguars.

It is not the first time that some felines make headlines as two male lions from the Masai Mara National Park in Kenya were photographed while laughing. The photo of the animals quickly went viral as their hilarious expression is priceless.

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