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Germany

Plucky Paul the octopus meets his maker

Paul the octopus, who found global fame during this year's football World Cup for his perfect record in predicting game outcomes, has died, his aquarium in Germany said Tuesday.

Paul the octopus

Paul leaves behind a mother in England

Paul the Octopus, that cephalopod who stupefied the world by maintaining a perfect record in predicting games at this year's football World Cup, has died by natural causes, his aquarium in Germany said Tuesday.

The English-born oracle, who kept his age a guarded secret, was the object of international intrigue and at the center of a dramatic month-long series of death threats and governmental offers of protection.

Paul, known by his friends as the silent type, shot to stardom after correctly predicting the outcomes of eight World Cup matches, including the final, which saw Spain defeat the Netherlands 1-0.

"His success made him almost a bigger story than the World Cup itself ... we had all naturally grown very fond of him and he will be sorely missed," the Oberhausen Sea Life Center said in a statement.

For the prediction, two boxes were lowered into the salty soothsayer's tank, each containing a mussel and the flags of the opposing teams.

Watched by a myriad of reporters, Paul would head to one box, wrench open the lid and gobble the tasty morsel, with the box he opted for being deemed the likely winner.

Rarely, if ever, has an octopus to caused such a stir merely by speaking his mind. However, it was a testament to his character that he steadfastly maintained his honor by sticking to his predictions, particularly in the face of international condemnation.

Following his correct prediction that Germany would defeat England, he was slammed by the British press. Then, when he said Germany would fall to Spain, he was the subject of death threats by sushi-hungry Germans.

The episode prompted Spanish leader Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero to call for Paul to be given bodyguards, while the country's industry minister offered him free passage to Spain to "ensure his protection."

Author: Darren Mara (AFP, AP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson

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