July 17, 2010
(KATAKAMI / BBC) A German zoo has turned down a “transfer request” from Spain for its star performer during the football World Cup – Paul the “psychic” octopus.
The cephalopod correctly predicted the outcome of all of Germany’s seven matches in the tournament, and also plumped for Spain to lift the trophy.
This made him an instant hero in Spain, and now Madrid’s Zoo says it wants to put Paul on display in its aquarium.
But Oberhausen’s Sea Life centre said there was no chance of Paul being sold.
“We’re very glad that Paul will stay here,” Sea Life spokeswoman Tunja Munzig said, adding that any other possible bids from abroad would be rejected.
Earlier, Madrid Zoo official Javier Diaz said the management was in talks with Oberhausen to see if the Germans wanted to exchange the 2.5-year-old octopus for “one of the species we have here”.
“What they might need is coral or small sharks. But if they don’t want any of that we might offer some money,” Mr Diaz said.
Ever since Paul predicted Spain’s triumph in the month-long tournament in South Africa, he has become a celebrity in Spain.
Fans watching last Sunday’s final in Madrid sported mini-Pauls on their T-shirts and squidgy replicas on top of their hats.
The octopus is already an honorary citizen of one Spanish town, and a summer festival in Paul’s name is being planned in the country.
Even Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero stepped in to offer protection, after bitter German fans threatened to eat Paul for predicting Germany’s defeat in the semi-final against Spain.
One Spanish fan said that Paul should replace the bull, which is often seen on Spanish flags.
“The octopus has done more [good] things that the bull,” the fan said.
But sadly for many Spaniards, Paul is staying home in Oberhausen.