BERLIN, (Reuters Life!) – Paul, the oracle octopus who shot to fame in the World Cup this summer for his uncanny ability to predict the results of Germany’s soccer matches, has died at his home in Oberhausen at the age of two.
English-born Paul made headlines across the globe after he correctly forecast how Germany would fare in seven matches, before his psychic powers were tested again for the final.
After Germany’s semi-final defeat, Paul tipped Spain to beat the Netherlands in the final, which prompted one news agency to report he had spurred a jump in demand for Spanish government bonds. Paul’s prediction duly came to pass: Spain won.
Staff at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in western Germany said in a statement they were “devastated” to learn of Paul’s death when they returned to work yesterday. “He appears to have passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes, and we are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life,” said the centre’s manager Stefan Porwoll.
Before matches, two containers of food were placed in the eight-legged creature’s tank, each one bearing the flag of one of the teams about to compete for their chance to become world champions. The container Paul picked first was seen as his pick.
Bettors around the world made small fortunes based on Paul’s uncanny picks, Graham Sharpe, media relations director at William Hill in London, one of Britain’s largest bookmakers, told Reuters in July.
Sharpe said that anyone who had placed a 10-pound accumulator bet on Paul’s picks from the start of the World Cup would have won 3,000 pounds ($4,500) by the end of the tournament.
Following the World Cup, a Spanish zoo made a transfer bid for Paul but his German keepers refused to sell. Some Germans called for a public grilling of the oracle octopus, prompting Sea Life to install extra security.
Paul will be kept in cold storage until the centre decides how to mark the mollusc’s extraordinary life, Porwoll added.
“We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within our grounds and erect a modest permanent shrine,” he said. Paul, who was hatched in Weymouth, England, may yet continue to dazzle the world with predictions from beyond the grave.
The mystic mollusc officially retired from making predictions after the tournament but not before tipping England to win the bidding race for the 2018 World Cup.
A Russian newspaper also said in July that it had got Paul to predict who would be Russia’s next president – but that the results would be kept secret until the election year of 2012.
Sea Life said Paul would live on as the object of a host of commercial enterprises ranging from special clothing lines to mobile phone applications inspired by his fame in Oberhausen, one of Germany’s most cash-strapped cities.
Meanwhile, donations made in honour of Paul’s achievements would help to fund a planned permanent rescue centre for sea turtles on the Greek island of Zakynthos, Sea Life said.
The sealife centre will soon replace the British-born aquarium dweller with another octopus, also to be named Paul.