Nein! to Spanish bid to buy octopus oracle

2010-07-16 12:25

Octopus oracle Paul’s presence wasn’t needed to predict how this

one would turn out: His aquarium in Germany today gave a resounding “nein” to a

bid to move the celebrity mollusk to Spain.

Paul rose from obscurity in Oberhausen’s Sea Life aquarium during

the soccer World Cup to international celebrity as he correctly called the

outcome of Germany’s seven matches in the month-long tournament, time and again

picking a mussel from a tank marked with the flag of the would-be winner.

He also correctly predicted Spain would beat Germany in the

semifinals – prompting many in his home country to speculate how he would taste

grilled in garlic butter.

Already a celebrity in Spain after the semifinal prediction – Prime

Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero offered to send a security team to protect

the two-and-a-half-year-old floppy octopus from the hungry Germans – the country

went wild for him after he correctly tipped Spain over the Netherlands in the

finals.

Paul is now so popular in Spain that a northwestern Spanish town

tried to borrow him. Officials in O Caraballino (population 14 000) declared

that the octopus is their “honorary friend” and wanted Paul’s presence to

promote a seafood festival, the Faro de Vigo newspaper said.

A businessman from the town also offered €30 000 (about R300 000)

to buy Paul but the newspaper said Sea Life declined.

In response to hundreds of requests to bring Paul to Spain, the

Madrid Zoo this week asked Sea Life if it would be willing to make a deal to

bring him in as a tribute to the Spanish football team’s victory.

Zoo spokesperson Amparo Fernandez said: “They brought the World

Cup, we bring Paul. He’s a symbol of this championship.”

She said the zoo had asked for Paul to come on either a temporary

or permanent basis, and had proposed an exchange of animals.

She said no financial offer had been made, but that it would be

considered if necessary.

But Sea Life spokesperson Kerstin Kuehn said there was no way it

would happen.

Kuehn said: “It’s totally out of the question to sell Paul or lend

him out. Paul will enjoy his greatly deserved retirement in Sea Life in

Oberhausen.”

 

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