Paul settles for Spain; Germany tipped for third spot

Berlin, July 9, (Agencies):
Last Updated 09 July 2010, 17:03 IST

The two-year-old celebrity octopus, who has accurately picked the outcome of all six of Germany's World Cup matches so far, quickly tipped Spain to beat the Netherlands. It took him only three minutes to make up his mind.

“That was fast -- it looks like a clear-cut victory for Spain,” said Tanja Munzig, spokeswoman for Sea Life in Oberhausen. She was surprised by his speed in picking Spain. For some matches it took Paul 70 minutes to decide.

The octopus, considered by some to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates, got the choice of picking food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank — one with a Dutch flag on it and one with Spain's flag.

Reaction in Spain was swift, with the country's biggest selling sports daily’s website marca.com running the headline: “The octopus Paul makes us champions.” The container Paul opens first is regarded as his pick. On Friday, he wasted no time in diving for the container on the right side with the Spanish flag.

Two German television networks interrupted their programming for live coverage of the two-year-old celebrity octopus's picks. Networks in Spain, the Netherlands and elsewhere in Europe also broadcast Paul's decision live.

Earlier on Friday, Germans heaved a sigh of relief when Paul tipped Germany to beat Uruguay in the World Cup match for third place. There were cheers in offices across Germany after crowds of viewers tuned in to watch Paul live. Normally, he only picks Germany matches. But for the final Sea Life made an exception.

Paul first settled on top of the Germany container but after a few minutes shifted to the Uruguay container. Then after about 15 minutes he went back to Germany container, opened the lid and ate the morsel of food.

After Paul accurately picked Spain to beat Germany in the semifinal, some Germans called for a public roasting of the oracle octopus. Officials at Sea Life in Oberhausen have installed extra security to protect their octopus. “Paul is in safe hands with us,” said Munzig.

Spain's Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero was quoted in Spanish media reports saying -- in jest -- he was concerned about Paul's safety. “I am concerned for the octopus...I am thinking of sending him a protective team,” Zapatero said.

Spain's Environment and Fisheries Minister Elena Espinosa also said: “On Monday I shall be at the European Council of Ministers and I shall be asking for a (fishing) ban on Paul the octopus so Germans do not eat him.”

Meanwhile, the Spanish team has fallen in love with Paul the octopus after it predicted that Spain will beat the Netherlands in the World Cup final. Spain’s defensive midfielder Sergio Busquets said on Friday that the Spaniards are in love with the octopus and and out of gratitude, they want to re-christen it Pablo. “We guess it is a Spanish octopus. We are in love with it and want to name it Pablo,” said Busquets.

(Published 09 July 2010, 10:43 IST)

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