Animal oracles in sports

-Riya Ganguly
Euro Cup 2020 has had a sensational beginning as “Boy” the albino lion from Thailand correctly predicted the outcome of several group stage matches.

Animal oracles in sportsAnimal oracles in sports have had a history of creating sensation by correctly predicting match scores and winners in major tournaments such as World Cups, Euro Cups and Copa America. This year isn’t exempt either, as a five-year old albino lion from a Thai zoo named “Boy” accurately predicted multiple UEFA Euro Cup matches in the knockout stage. The young lion was offered two pieces of meat hanging from a zipwire, each representing a country through their national flags attached to it; the piece of meat Boy would choose would become the team predicted to win the match in the group stage. Boy chose the reigning world cup defending champions France, predicting their 1-0 win against Germany. He also predicted the current Euro Cup defending champions’ win against Hungary, to be proven correct in Portugal’s 3-0 win in the “Group of Death” later that week. Boy also correctly predicted Ukraine’s defeat to Netherlands, England’s win over Croatia and the surprising draw at the end of the England-Scotland match.

This oracular behaviour on the part of animals isn’t a new phenomenon, as many such “psychic” animals have displayed their penchant for correctly predicting the outcome of several world championship matches.

Paul the Octopus

Paul the Octopus gained worldwide fame as the cephalopod from a Sea Life Centre from Germany correctly predicted Die Mannschaft’s wins in six Euro Cup matches in 2008 and all seven of their wins in World Cup 2010. Given identical boxes of food with national flags attached to them, his oracular status secured credibility as the octopus correctly chose Spain to win the World Champion title in 2010.

Achilles the Cat

The deaf white cat living in the St. Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum was offered a selection of two bowls of cat food, each demarcated with the national flag of the country it represented. The feline foreseer gathered buzz by accurately forecasting the host nation’s win against Saudi Arabia in World Cup Russia, 2018 in addition to correctly predicting the outcomes of three out of four football matches in the FIFA Confederations Cup in the same year.

Maggie the Monkey

The crab-eating macaque from Canada was brought into National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs from 2003-2009 by the sports channel TSN to make predictions on the Canadian broadcast. Trained to spin a wheel, the team “Magical Maggie” picked on spinning the wheel would be predicted to win the best of seven series. The macaque gained widespread popularity in her predictions of the NHL playoffs, even receiving a front-page feature on the Los Angeles Times and receiving her own parodic TSN segment titled “The Ape-rentice”.

As the Euro Cup group of 16 matches have begun from 26th June 2021, the “psychic” lion from northern Thailand has made its predictions. While it could not predict Czech Republic’s win over Netherlands on Sunday, it successfully prophesized Belgium’s narrow victory over Portugal on Sunday evening. It’s predictions of Croatia defeating Spain and Germany’s entry to the quarter finals by defeating England remain yet to be seen. The future of the lion’s oracular status is on the line as the eight remaining teams battle for a position in the quarter finals of UEFA Euro 2020.

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