With the World Cup now just days away, a successor has emerged to replace Paul the Octopus, one of the tournament's greatest prediction legends. In 2010, “El Pulpo Paul”, a resident of a German aquarium, correctly predicted the results of eight consecutive World Cup matches by choosing between flags placed on top of boxes containing food, usually a mussel or oyster. Paul's string of success elevated him to Oracle-like status and made him the unlikely star of the competition, which was held in South Africa that year.
He died of natural causes not long after correctly predicting the Spanish victory against the Netherlands in the final match. (see him in action below.)
Now, it's time for a new animal psychic to take his place. According to The Wall Street Journal’s Will Davies, Chinese state media are reporting that a panda cub has been “invited” to predict World Cup results at a giant panda conservation center in Sichuan province. If the panda decides to become a World Cup consultant, it will likely make its predictions by climbing a tree flying a particular flag, or picking flag-marked food like Paul did. The Australian Associated Press reports that there will be more than one cub, and a “crack team” of baby pandas will be used to indicate victorious countries.
Of course, there are other animals touted as Paul’s gambling heirs. There was Citta, an Indian elephant living in the Krakow Zoo, who was chosen to predict the Euro 2012 outcome, along with the aptly named Psychic Pig. Ukraine’s Fred the Ferret was another pick for the European tournament, and was tasked with choosing between two bowls of beef each bearing a different country’s flag. None of them quite lived up to Paul's name.
In an eerie coincidence, earlier today, traffic in London was brought to a standstill by what appeared to be the ghost of Paul strapped to the back of a van. A truck carrying a giant octopus statue “broke down” in Oxford Circus (read: purposefully stopped in one of busiest places in London), causing chaos and prompting the best tweet in the history of government tweets from Transport for London.
A lorry carrying an octopus has broken down at Oxford Circus. Approach with care. pic.twitter.com/GpQQEEoZi8— TfL Traffic News (@TfLTrafficNews) June 3, 2014
Sleuths eventually determined that Betfair, the online gambling site, was responsible for the broken down octopus, which is heading for a starring role in an advertising campaign that may or may not be World Cup related. Betfair tweeted a clue about the ad, which involves the octopus, and will likely be released tomorrow.