R.I.P. Paul the octopus: Tentacled World Cup prognosticator passes away in German aquarium
"He appears to passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes, and we are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life here and that the care provided him by our dedicated displays team could not have been bettered," Stefan Porwoll, manager of the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany, said in a statement.
Paul, who was born in the U.K. but spent most of his life at the German aquarium, made his famous predictions by selecting a mussel from one of two clear plastic boxes, each marked with the flag of one of the teams playing in a World Cup match.
His knack for picking the winning team earned him the adoration of legions of soccer fans, but he became especially popular in Spain after he picked the country's national team to beat Germany in a semifinal matchup. Later, he chose Spain as the winner of the final game against the Netherlands.
The Madrid Zoo even attempted to convince the Oberhausen aquarium to let Paul move to Spain, either temporarily or permanently, but the request was denied. The Sea Life aquarium also turned down a number of offers of further publicity for Paul, such as opportunities to expand his prognosticating career into other realms. "He won't give any more oracle predictions -- either in football, nor in politics, lifestyle or economy," Sea Life spokesperson Tanja Munzig told the Associated Press after the World Cup. "Paul will get back to his former job, namely making children laugh."
"We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within out grounds and erect a modest permanent shrine," Porwoll said. "While this may seem a curious thing to do for a sea creature, Paul achieved such popularity during his short life that it may be deemed the most appropriate course of action."
Paul's fame will help other marine life; donations made in his name are helping to fund the construction of a sea turtle rehabilitation center on the Greek island of Zakynthos.
Another octopus, also named Paul, will take his place on display in Oberhausen.
-- Lindsay Barnett
Photo: Paul predicts Spain's victory over the Netherlands on July 9. Credit: Roland Weihrauch / European Pressphoto Agency