Battle of the Animal OraclesDavid Wescott
Since the death of Paul the Octopus (also known as Paul the Oracle) in October 2010, there has been a vacuum at the top of the surprisingly crowded field of animals deemed to have psychic abilities. Paul, who had famously picked the correct victors in 8 of 8 FIFA World Cup matches in 2010, was also 80 percent accurate during a 2008 European soccer tournament. (Paul, though originally from the U.K., had made his home at an aquarium in Germany.) While his method of divination was not the most graceful (he chose to eat mussels in one of two boxes marked with flags), his reign as most clairvoyant animal has been unparalleled, at least until now.
During the London Olympics one prophetic pundit wannabe has emerged as the frontrunner to follow Paul. Jemma the Psychic, the hopeful candidate, is a Russian raccoon. She has selected China, not surprisingly, to win the most medals and has also divined that Russia will finish second in the medal count, leading to suspicions of bias. Jemma makes her selections by sniffing at pastry buns marked with flags. Jemma’s handler boasted that based on Jemma’s past performance, “the accuracy of her predictions is almost 100 percent.”
Other candidates to seek the mantle of Paul the Octopus? Well, there’s the unoriginally named Paulo, a Portuguese octopus; Citta, an elephant in Poland; Funtik, the psychic Ukrainian pig; and Nicholas the llama, in the U.K. In fact, things have gotten so out of hand that in Germany one animal rights group has started to complain—they were particularly concerned about the prophetic method of a python named Ado. The snake is offered live rats painted with stripes symbolizing different countries. The ones he eats are his picks. “There’s hardly an animal that’s not being used as a prophet,” one spokesperson said.