Paul the Psychic Octopus Is the Real Hero of the World Cup

In the face of threats that he would be turned in to calamari, Paul the Psychic Octopus bravely, and accurately, predicted Germany's defeat by Spain yesterday. The German-based psychic octopus has now achieved a 100% accurate prediction rate for the World Cup 2010.

An unexpected media phenomenon of the World Cup, Paul has gained such popularity that German television have started to broadcast his predictions on-air, with two reporters sitting by his tank, offering live commentary from his home at Aquarium Sea Life in Oberhausen, Germany.

Paul has become world renowned, but recently provoked hostility in South America after the quarter-finals when he correctly predicted that Argentina would lose to Germany. Some Argentineans even threatened to kill Paul and put him in a paella.

The newspaper El Dia offered a recipe for any Argentine patriots who managed to capture Paul: "All you need is four normal potatoes, olive oil for taste and a little pepper."

The Argentinan chef Nicolas Bedorrou suggested a harsher way to cook the octopus: "We will chase him and put him on some paper. We will then beat him in order to keep the meat tender and then put it in boiling water."

His keepers encourage Paul to make his predictions by putting mussels into two glass cubes, with each cube having one of the competing nations' flags on the front. Whichever mussel Paul chooses first is taken as his prediction.

Paul showed special talents from his early life in Weymouth sea life park in England. According to the park's entertainment director Daniel Fey: "There was something about the way he looked at our visitors when they came close to the tank. It was so unusual, so we tried to find out what his special talents were."

The first time Paul's psychic abilities were tested was during the UEFA Euro 2008 soccer championship when he was proven correct in 80% of predictions made. Paul's current keeper in Germany, Oliver Walenciak, says Paul is not bothered by the death threats sent by Argentinean supporters, some of whom now blame the octopus for their World Cup exit:
"There are always people who want to eat our octopus but he is not shy and we are here to protect him as well. He will survive."

Paul's antics have been reported to millions throughout the world, adding yet another light-hearted and quirky twist to the great celebration of humanity that is the World Cup in South Africa. The phrases "Paul the Octopus" and "Pulpo", the Spanish for octopus, are both currently in the top 10 global trends on Twitter.

Octopi are apparently highly intelligent animals and have been shown to have a good short and long-term memory. Some say their intelligence is similar to that of a dog. It has been calculated that if you placed accumulator bets on the basis of Paul's predictions at the beginning of this World Cup, you would have now made 131 times your money.

But don't base your pension plan on gambling on Paul's predictions during the next World Cup, as Paul is unlikely to live until 2014 - octopi only live an average of 3 to 5 years, and he was born back in 2008. I can see already unprecedented grief for this octopus on his passing, perhaps even a state funeral, as millions unite in silence and the Last Post is played -- on a vuvuzela, of course.

Calamari will never taste the same again.

This article also appeared in The Freeman's Journal