Rio mascots represent Brazil’s animal, plant life

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio de Janeiro has chosen the animal and plant life of Brazil as the inspiration for the mascots of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.

The Olympic mascot is a bright yellow cat-like figure representing the animal life of South America’s biggest country. Its partner for the Paralympics is a mopped-headed doll with leafy hair, meant to represent the vast diversity of the flora in Brazil.

The mascots made their first official appearance on Monday. A public poll will be conducted to name the two from a shortlist of possibilities.

The cuddly, cartoon-like mascots are big business.

Organizers hope to raise 1 billion reals ($400 million) from branded merchandise.