The rhea-sistance: bird pecks Bolsonaro during coronavirus quarantine

Rhea took a peck at the Brazilian president, who has Covid-19, as he was trying to feed it at his palace

Brazil’s president Jair Bolsonaro has been bitten by an emu-like bird that he tried to feed while under coronavirus quarantine at the presidential palace, local media has reported.

According to the Metropóles site, the rhea bird “pecked” at Bolsonaro when he tried to feed it during a stroll around the palace grounds in Brasília on Monday.

bolsonaro tentando alimentar uma ema e sendo bicado

— muriel (@pedromuriel) July 14, 2020

Opponents of the far-right populist leader, a former army captain who presents himself as a man of the people by wearing flip flops and football shirts, eating hotdogs and visiting bakeries, seized on the incident.

“100 percent rhea,” Communist party congresswoman Jandira Feghali posted on Facebook. “Even the animals recognise when someone is pernicious,” tweeted journalist Solange Mateus. “Nature is healing,” tweeted biologist Flávio Souza.

The 65-year-old has been isolating at the palace since announcing he had tested positive for Covid-19 on 7 July.

On Monday he announced that he plans to take another test as he “can’t stand” being in isolation. The result of the test, which is scheduled for Tuesday, “should be out in a few hours, and I will wait quite anxiously because I can’t stand this routine of staying at home. It’s horrible,” Bolsonaro said in a telephone interview with CNN Brazil, from his official residence at the Alvorada Palace.

“Interacting with the animals has been one of Bolsonaro’s distractions,” the Estadão newspaper reported, publishing a sequence of photos showing the president wearing a mask as he fed the flock of birds and then sharply withdrawing his hand. The rhea is a South American bird that can’t fly and is distantly related to emus and ostriches.

Since the beginning of the crisis, the far-right president has dismissed the seriousness of the epidemic and criticised containment measures ordered by governors in Brazilian states. Brazil has the second highest confirmed number of Covid-19 cases and deaths globally.

“This rhea represents us,” tweeted Margarida Salomão, a congresswoman for the Workers’ party.


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