Paul the octopus, a resident of Germany, gained global attention after correctly guessing the outcome of eight 2010 World Cup gamesinvolving his home country. He died shortly after, having earned the ire of German soccer fans by predicting Spain’s 2010 win over Germany, leaving a gaping hole in the field of animal clairvoyancy.
For the Brazil World Cup in 2014, a menagerie of contenders vied to replace Paul, including this camel, an elephant in Germany, and a sea turtle, but none could fill Paul’s shoes—as not only did he not wear any, but he would have had eight of them if he did.
This year, the field of competition of fauna vying to be the next influential World Cup oracle is even bigger. The animals make their forecasts in a number of ways: by eating or grabbing a food item attached to a country’s flag, turning their heads in the direction of one flag or another, or pushing a small ball to one pitch or another.
Here’s a list of them, and their predictions.
- Achilles, cat, St. Petersburg: A mouse hunter at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, which is hosting the World Cup, this deaf cat is sort of the “official” animal psychic for this year’s games. Achilles has done well so far, but did wrongly forecast two games, including that Nigeria would beat Argentina. His heart doesn’t quite seem to be in it though. In a short video of him training, he looks sick of the World Cup before it’s even started. (With Russia being the host, zoo animals all around the country are in the prediction game, including dolphins, a lemur, a meerkat, Aurora the polar bear (shown above), an otter, a white goat, a Bengal tiger and some hippos.)
- Baidianr, cat, Bejing:This resident of Beijing’s Forbidden City imperial palace complex also had a pretty good run—she correctly forecast seven of 10 games. But the ginger tabby died on Monday, after a last correct prediction: Argentina’s 2-1 win over Nigeria. Her death has prompted an outpouring of grief on social media in China, with many having met her in person over the years: “Go on living a happy life in Cat Heaven, I’ll see you again.”
- Marcus, pig, Derbyshire: His method is picking out green apples with flags stuck in them, resulting in a prediction that Nigeria, Belgium, Uruguay, and Argentina would make it to the semi-finals. But Argentina is out.
- Newton, parrot, Paris: Newton nudges a mini soccer ball towards a pitch to make his prediction. He correctly predicted (video) Russia would beat Spain, and sent the ball towards France, ahead of its match with Uruguay on Friday (July 6).
- Rabiot, octopus, Hokkaido: This Japanese giant Pacific octopus guessed the result of Japan’s three World Cup group-stage matches, but was sent to market, possibly to become sashimi, even before Japan crashed out of the World Cup.
- Shaheen, camel, Dubai: “Discovered” in 2014 by the Dubai-based Gulf News, Shaheen’s predictions this year have him at 5-4 in terms of accuracy. You can see his predictions for past and upcoming games here.
- Others in the fray: Other animals around the world that have been in the fray include Valentina, a lioness in Colombia (below), and a democratically chosen elephant in Poland. Nelly, the elephant in Germany, is also back. An honorable mention also goes to Datou, a former stray dog in Hong Kong that the South China Morning Post coaxed into making a prediction on a lark. Little is known about Datou’s previous clairvoyance experience, if any. His pick for World Cup winner: Iceland.