They may look like headlining characters for a new Sprout children's TV series — but the stretchy multicolored cat and the blue-and-green tree-like creature making headlines Monday are actually fun-filled new mascots for Rio's 2016 Olympics and Paralympics.
As representatives of Brazil's flora and fauna, the two creatures are mash-ups of different animals and plant life, according to the Rio2016 website: "The Olympics games mascot is a mixture of different Brazilian animals, blessed with their many qualities: the agility of the cats, the sway of the monkeys, the grace of the birds."
Meanwhile, the tree creature is designed to represent Paralympic athletes. "He is transforming all the time — like plants that are always moving, growing towards the sun and overcoming obstacles," the site continued.
Both have superpower-like abilities, but only use them in the pursuit of good, and they each come with a fairly detailed backstory that can be read at the website.
What they don't yet have are names, which is part of the marketing strategy behind them. Fans can go to the Rio2016 website here (there's an option to view in English) and vote for what they think those names should be: Oba and Eba; Tiba Tuque and Esquindim; or Vinicius and Tom.
They're expected to appear on dozens of Olympic-related items, with organizers expecting to raise much as $1 billion reals (US $400 million) from merchandise. "Our expectation is that the mascots will represent 25 percent of our [merchandising] business," Slymara Mutini, the head of licensing, told the Associated Press.
"We are all very, very excited about the mascots, and we truly believe that's an achievable goal," Mutini added. "And we might even surpass it."
Rio is spending around $20 billion reals in preparation for the Olympics; it recently spent $15 billion to house the World Cup.