World Cup 2010 Prediction Icon: Paul the Octopus Dies

Paul, the Psychic Octopus, who won unlikely worldwide fame after correctly predicting a host of World Cup 2010 matches, died on monday, the aquarium in Germany said in a statement today.

Paul the octopus, an unlikely star of the 2010 World Cup who 'predicted' the outcome of eight matches, has died at an aquarium in Germany. Photo: Oberhausen Sea Life Centre

Paul the Psychic Octopus – who made such a splash over the summer by successfully predicting the results of World Cup 2010 games – passed away on Monday in the comfort of the German aquarium he called home.

He would have been three in January 2011. Staff at the centre said his death was not entirely unexpected, since common octopuses generally only live a couple of years.

“Management and staff at the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre were devastated to discover that oracle octopus Paul, who achieved global renown during the recent World Cup 2010, had passed away overnight,” the aquarium in Germany said in a statement Tuesday. No further details were given.

However, the UK’s Guardian reports that according to Jiang Xiao, the director of a forthcoming thriller entitled “Who Killed Paul the Octopus?”, the creature had really been dead for the last three months.

She said the newspaper that she is “60 to 70% sure” Paul had died in July and been secretly replaced by his keepers. Explaining how such a deception could have been perpetrated, she added: “[Octopuses] all look the same. It’s impossible to tell the difference.”

Stefan Porwoll, manager of the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany, said: ''His success made him almost a bigger story than the World Cup 2010 itself.' 'Photo: Oberhausen Sea Life Centre

Jiang said she thought it was “kind of strange” that news of Paul’s death had broken not long after the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in western Germany had contacted her team to say they were keen to co-operate on the international distribution of her film.

“We have been keeping in touch with the German aquarium ever since the beginning [of production] but it seemed to me that they were afraid,” she said. “The movie is about unveiling the inside story behind the octopus miracle, so they felt nervous.

“For the movie, we had done quite a lot of investigation and I am 60% to 70% sure that Paul died on 9 July [two days before the World Cup final] and the Germans have been covering up his death and fooling us for a long time.”

Jiang declined to explain why she believed Paul had died in July — or to say more about the revelations in the movie. Her allegations of submarine jiggery-pokery met with polite bafflement in Germany today.

However, a spokeswoman for the aquarium said: “It’s certainly not true that Paul died in the summer. We can absolutely assure you that he died last night. He was about two and a half, which is the average age for an octopus. He died a simple and straightforward death.”

Staff at the centre said his death was not entirely unexpected, since common octopuses generally only live a couple of years. Photo: Oberhausen Sea Life Centre

”He appears to have passed away peacefully during the night, of natural causes, and we are consoled by the knowledge that he enjoyed a good life here,” said Mr Porwoll, manager of the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in Germany.

Born in January 2008 in Weymouth, England, Paul accurately forecast the results of all but two of Germany’s games during Euro 2008 (he slipped up on predicting the defeats to Croatia and Spain).

At this summer’s World Cup, he maintained a perfect record, correctly predicting all of Germany’s results before picking Spain to beat Netherlands in the final.

Paul is due to be cremated in the next few days. His ashes will be placed in an urn and displayed in a shrine, along with a portrait and video clips from his life, the spokeswoman added. “We’ve already set up a condolence book where people can write their tributes to Paul,” she said.

But what of the rumours that Paul had pulled off one last magnificent psychic coup by predicting his own death? “If he did, he kept it to himself,” she said.

So, Paul will live on meanwhile in the form of a range of commercial enterprises ranging from special clothing lines to mobile phone applications. [via Guardian (UK), Daily Telegraph (UK) and BBC]

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