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Koala to serve as 'animal oracle' at Euro 2016

Animals purported to have psychic powers have become tradition at major sporting events in recent years. Now a koala at a zoo in eastern Germany is being put forward as an "oracle" for the European Football Championship.

The Australian marsupial, named Oobi-Ooobi, joins a long list of animals from elephants to octopi who have been recruited to predict the outcome of soccer games.

Leipzig Zoo offered up Oobi-Ooobi as a possible oracle candidate on Wednesday for Germany's national football team during the Euro 2016 in France.

However, the zoo acknowledged it had not consulted the German Football Association about its initiative, but backed Oobi-Ooobi as a viable, clairvoyant contender.

"As an Australian, he'll have an impartial view of the football matches," a zoo spokeswoman told DPA news agency.

Oobi-Ooobi arrived at Leipzig Zoo in April, where he's already proven a hit with the public. But as far as clairvoyant creatures go, he's got some big shoes to fill. Four years ago, Paul the Octopus from the German city of Oberhausen became a worldwide phenomenon after accurately predicting the winners of all of Germany's matches at the 2010 World Cup.

Paul the octopus

Paul the octopus accurately predicted the outcome of all of Germany's matches in 2010

Paul, who has since passed away, communicated his supposed insights by choosing between two glass boxes of mussels - one with the German flag and the other bearing that of the opposing team. The case he opened first was deemed to be his predicted winner.

A number of different animals have since been conscripted into the prediction business in Germany. Nelly the Elephant from Lüneburg Heath, for example, made predictions by shooting a soccer ball into two different goals. Hitting the goalpost assigned to the opposing team apparently meant Germany would win their next match. Then there was Momario, a tortoise from Schleswig-Holstein, who had to choose between national flags made of green leafy veggies. Armadillo Taka from Erfurt chose winners by eating boiled chicken skin.

Leipzig Zoo says Oobi-Ooobi will be called on to make his first prediction on June 12, when Germany takes on Ukraine. But zoo officials are yet to reveal how their marsupial will channel his psychic talents.

Koalas, known for their round fluffy ears and large black noses, often sleep up to 20 hours a day and feed almost exclusively on eucalyptus leaves. The zoo is currently cultivating 23 different eucalyptus varieties at a special plantation north of Leipzig in order to cater to its oracle's needs.

Opossum Heidi

Cross-eyed opossum Heidi, also a Leipzig Zoo 'oracle,' became a media sensation in 2011

Oobi-Ooobi isn't the zoo's first animal oracle. In 2013, a Malayan tapir named Baru was made to predict the outcome of the Champions League final between Bayern Munich and Dortmund. In that case, Baru's bite into a kohlrabi representing Dortmund's black and yellow colors, unfortunately, proved incorrect.

Another Leipzig Zoo resident, Heidi the cross-eyed opossum, gained international fame with her role as oracle in the 2011 Academy Awards. The animal became an internet sensation with hundreds of thousands of fans on Facebook. She also made an appearance on American TV's Jimmy Kimmel Live!, where she predicted the winners of three Oscar categories.

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