June 24, 2011 / 3:22 PM / 8 years ago

Germany searches for next octopus oracle

BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Eight octopuses in Germany competed Friday to replace the late oracle Paul by predicting the result of the opening match of the women’s soccer World Cup between host Germany and Canada.

The contest between aquariums around Germany will determine which cephalopod, if any, can repeat the clairvoyant feats of Paul, who shot to international fame after correctly predicting matches of the World Cup in South Africa last year.

Paul died in October of natural causes at the age of almost three — a ripe old age in octopus terms.

With the women’s event opening Sunday, television showed live coverage of octopuses with names like Paula and Paul II attempting to predict the outcome of the first match by plucking mussels out of containers bearing the two countries’ flags.

As with Paul’s picks last year, which attracted worldwide media coverage, the octopuses’ first choice of food is their pick to win.

“Everything is based on octopus Paul,” said Sandra Schmalzried, the general manager of Sea Life aquarium in Berlin.

“We all remember the men’s World Cup,” she added, “so we had the idea of finding the octopus champion.” Sea Life’s eight aquariums in Germany are holding the contest.

Octopus Ophira in Berlin tipped Germany to win Sunday, as did two of her rivals. Two picked Canada and three predicted a draw.

The German squad are even money to win the tournament, according to London bookmaker William Hill.

Other favorites include Brazil (9/2) and the United States (6/1). Canada is a long shot at 40/1.

Reporting by Eric Kelsey and Reuters TV; Editing by Steve Addison

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