Germans shell-shocked by oracle octopus

Tue Jul 6, 2010 10:22am EDT
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By Erik Kirschbaum

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany was in a state of shock on Tuesday after their "oracle octopus" Paul picked Spain to win the World Cup semi-final match against Germany in South Africa on Wednesday.

Not an ordinarily superstitious people, Germans have become believers in Paul's possible psychic powers.

"This is not a good omen," wrote Bild newspaper's online edition after the news of Paul's pick flashed across Germany.

The octopus has turned into an international celebrity after accurately picking the winner of all five German World Cup matches to date -- including their 1-0 loss to Serbia.

Two national networks interrupted their programing on Tuesday for live coverage of Paul's latest forecast, and groans of disappointment rang out across Germany after Paul went for a container with a morsel of food in it bearing the Spanish flag.

"We were all a little bit shocked when Paul picked Spain," said Tanja Munzig, a spokeswoman for Sea Life in Oberhausen. "To err is not only human -- animals can also make mistakes. Let's hope Paul got this one wrong."

The octopus, considered by some to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates, was again given the choice of picking food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank -- one with a German flag on it and one with a Spanish.

The container Paul opens first is regarded as his pick for the match. Paul first put his tentacles around the German container before moving to his left to the Spanish box -- first opening the lid and then snatching the morsel of food inside.   Continued...

<p>Two year-old octopus Paul, the so-called "octopus oracle" predicts Spain's victory in their 2010 World Cup semi-final soccer match against Germany by choosing a mussel, from a glass box decorated with the Spanish national flag instead of a glass box with the German flag, at the Sea Life Aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen July 6, 2010. Paul has correctly picked the winner of Germany's five World Cup results so far. REUTERS/Wolfgang Rattay</p>