EYES around the world were on Germany’s octopus oracle Paul yesterday as he made his biggest prediction yet in the World Cup: Spain will beat the Netherlands in the final.
Paul’s prescient picks in the World Cup – he has yet to make a wrong prediction – have propelled him to international fame from obscurity in an aquarium in the western city of Oberhausen.
TV stations in Germany, Great Britain, Taiwan and elsewhere broadcast live pictures, complete with breathless commentary, of his final decision.
Millions watched as the eight-legged oracle descended upon on a tank marked with a Spanish flag, sitting for only a few minutes before grabbing a mussel and devouring it, while completely ignoring the Dutch tank – indicating a Spanish victory in tomorrow night’s final.
It was the first time the 2½-year-old floppy octopus had been tasked to pick a game in which Germany wasn’t involved, as the Oberhausen Sea Life aquarium bowed to demand. He correctly called Germany’s wins over Argentina, England, Australia and Ghana and the country’s loss to Spain and Serbia.
He also predicted that Germany will win over Uruguay in tonight’s s match for third and fourth place.
Paul first developed his abilities during the 2008 European Championship in which he predicted five out of six games involving Germany correctly. But while he had only a community of local fans two years ago, his World Cup prognostications have brought him something like stardom.
He has his own Facebook fan pages.
“Paul is such a professional oracle – he doesn’t even care that hundreds of journalists are watching and commenting on every move he makes,” said Stefan Porwoll, the Sea Life aquarium manager.
Spain’s defeat of Germany in the semi-finals prompted some Germans to wonder about how he would taste grilled. Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero fretted about the safety of “El Pulpo Paul,” as he’s known in Spain, and offered Paul protection.
German TV stations have offered the eight-legged psychic lucrative contracts.
While Paul is no doubt the world’s most famous animal oracle these days, he is facing competition. In Singapore, Mani, a World Cup-forecasting parakeet, predicted a different outcome of the World Cup final.
Creeping out of his small wooden cage and choosing between two white cards – one hiding a Dutch flag, the other Spanish – the bird predicted the Netherlands will win its first World Cup championship, setting up a Mani-Paul showdown.
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