The Aztecs, along with their cousins the Maya and the Inca, in spite of their trappings of high civilization, their excelling in architecture and the Arts, were a savage, bloodthirsty lot. I mean no denigration by referring to them as such, for they possessed many traits admirable and enviable, but any group known to practice human sacrifice on even a limited scale, much less openly and commonly, as did the Aztecs, may properly be called “savage.” As a warrior people with a harsh, at times brutal culture, they not surprisingly, and in keeping with most “primitive” peoples around the world, envisioned for themselves a close kinship with the natural world and a veneration, and celebration, of animals, with a focus on large predators in particular.
It seems the Aztecs were keeping such animals as jaguars, raptors—and wolves—though not as pets—in the city of Teotihuacán, in modern day Mexico, as early as 150 AD. What were they doing with them? Did they operate zoos, as we do today? Maybe, but the remains of the animals found at Teotihuacán (It’s actually not that hard to pronounce, if you practice it. Try it phonetically. Tay-Ow-Tee-Wah-Con. Just say it slowly. See, you’ve got it!) suggest they were used in rituals—like those earlier mentioned human sacrifices. It seems those beasts were eating the sacrificial victims. As if having one’s heart cut out with a stone knife wasn’t bad enough . . .