Octopus Paul, soccer oracle of the German aquarium Sea Life, predicts a victory for Spain in the World Cup final between the Netherlands and Spain. (Roland Weihrauch / EPA)
Reporting from Johannesburg, South Africa — Paul the octopus has spoken — sort of — and he says Spain will win Sunday's World Cup final.CNN says it's probably just trained behavior:
The mind-bending mollusk, who has yet to miss a World Cup prediction, ignored a tank marked with a Dutch flag Friday and instead descended on one with a Spanish flag, reaching in to grab a mussel and devour it as TV cameras from Germany, Great Britain, Taiwan and elsewhere looked on.
"Looking at the series of predictions, it appears that this may have been a learned task," said Dr. Jean Boal, a marine biology professor at Millersville University in Pennsylvania.Nonetheless, there have been death threats from crazy fans. Chris Matyszczyk at CNET reports:
Boal, who has worked with cephalopods for more than 20 years, believes that Paul's first pick may have just been pure luck and that he has been picking the German flag since his Euro 2008 days because the sea creature has learned to do so.
"It's a simple form of conceptual learning," she said.
Unfortunately, when it came to last Wednesday's semifinal, he chose Spain over his home nation. He was right. But this, naturally, has led to an outpouring of socially-networked angst and bile, demanding his instant and painful demise.
Just one symbol of this feeling is a German Facebook group called "Die Krake Must Weg", which seems to be something of an opposite feeling to the English "The Kraken Wakes".
Yes, some outrageously heinous Germans want him kaput. Indeed, even FIFA.com, a site as pure as the intentions of all its referees, reported its own concern about Paul's fate.
It quoted German newspaper Der Western as saying there are "a host of comments on Facebook, Twitter...suggesting Paul should be fried, barbecued, or turned into a seafood salad or paella." Some, FIFA.com noted, have gone further in their abject cruelty. They want to throw him into a shark tank.
But it isn't just the Germans. Argentina, which was destroyed by Germany, has also turned to Facebook demanding the pulpo should be pulped.
His handler, though, is confident that any Web-based nastiness will not ultimately afflict Paul's well-being. He told the Telegraph: "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."
In an attempt to gain a stay of execution, Paul has predicted that Germany will win the entirely unimportant third place game against Uruguay on Saturday.
However, all those who are offering socially-networked death threats to this charming and highly intuitive octopus might bear in mind that he's only expected to live until the ripe old age of 3. And he's already 2.