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Rediff.com  » Sports » Spain, Germany in transfer tussle for oracle octopus

Spain, Germany in transfer tussle for oracle octopus

Last updated on: July 16, 2010 08:46 IST

Madrid zoo bids for Paul the oracle octopus

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Madrid zoo made a transfer bid for Paul the oracle octopus on Thursday, telling his aquarium in Germany it would outbid all others and give him a warm welcome in gratitude for predicting Spain's soccer World Cup win.

But Paul's keepers at Sea Life in Germany said the tentacled tipster is not on the transfer list.

Paul, credited variously with psychic powers or incredible insight into soccer, even for a species considered the cleverest of all invertebrates, became a celebrity for managing a perfect eight-for-eight record tipping winners in South Africa.

The octopus predicted football matches by picking food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank, each adorned with the flag of one of the matches' competitors.

Paul earned Spain's affection for accurately tipping them to beat the Dutch in the final, but in Germany he became the butt of bitter jokes about grilled octopus and 'pulpo a la gallega' after predicting its defeats to Serbia and Spain.

Photographs: Reuters


Image: Paul the oracle octopus

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'Paul will receive the best attention'

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The Zoo Aquarium in Madrid said that in response to "dozens of petitions from all over Spain" it has contacted Sea Life in the town of Oberhausen "to ask them to transfer the animal" and making the Germans an offer they could not refuse.

Madrid zoo assured the Germans that it could "improve on any offer received so far" and throw in some animals of its own. It did not make any mention of cash sums involved.

"The zoo also guarantees that Paul will receive the best attention, reflecting the great affection in which he is held by all the Spanish people since he predicted that the Spanish team would win the football World Cup," it said in a statement.

But Paul's keepers in Oberhausen are doing just that. They had said when the World Cup ended that the fame had not gone to his head and that he would see out the rest of his life -- about another year, given the short life span of his species -- at his old job of "making children smile".


Image: Paul the oracle octopus

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Spanish town declares Paul an honorary citizen

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During the tournament in South Africa, television crews from all over the world interrupted broadcasts for live coverage of the eight-legged oracle selecting a mussel from one of two food containers draped in the national flags of the opposing teams.

Standing near Paul's tank, which was crowded with visitors and bedecked with flags, Sea Life spokeswoman Tanja Munzig said on Thursday that the octopus is not for sale.

"We are not in contact with Madrid Zoo. And we know nothing about swapping Paul for another animal or him going to Madrid Zoo for a transfer sum," she said.

But she did add that one Spanish approach is welcome -- from a small, unnamed Spanish town that had declared Paul an honorary citizen and would send its mayor to Oberhausen next week to present him with a commemorative plaque and sculpture.

They can go on his shelf next to the miniature World Cup he was presented last week.


Image: Paul the oracle octopus

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