FRANKFURT, Germany (AP)—Paul the Octopus, the tentacled tipster who fascinated football fans by correctly predicting results at this year’s World Cup, died Tuesday.
Paul had reached octopus old age of 2 1/2 years and died in his tank on Tuesday morning in an aquarium in the western German city of Oberhausen, spokeswoman Ariane Vieregge said.
Paul seemed to be in good shape when he was checked late Monday, but he did not make it through the night. He died of natural causes, Vieregge added.
“We had all naturally grown very fond of him and he will be sorely missed,” Sea Life manager Stefan Porwoll said in a statement.
The aquarium has not yet decided how best to commemorate their most famous resident, he said.
“We may decide to give Paul his own small burial plot within our grounds, and erect a modest permanent shrine,” Porwoll said.
After rising to global prominence during the World Cup in South Africa in June and July, Paul retired from the predictions business after the final between Spain and the Netherlands—the result of which he also forecast correctly—and returned to his prime role of making children happy.
The blogosphere erupted in sympathy for Paul, although some saw him more as a tasty morsel than a departed friend. “Will they cook him Galician-style? I wonder how much a plate of Paul with a beer must cost,” wrote Jordi, alluding to the popularity of octopus as a dish in the northwest Galicia region and much of Spain.
Others were more philosophical on hearing of Paul’s death.
“For the next month I will go to class dressed in mourning, wrapped in a black suit and with my gaze lost in the horizon, as this calamitous event deserves no less,” wrote ‘relojero’ which means watchmaker. Another blogger, Pedro, saw a sinister hand at work. “An autopsy should be carried out, it’s certain some betting office killed him.”
In July, the Sea Life aquarium in Oberhausen said Paul was stepping “back from the official oracle business.
“He won’t give any more oracle predictions—neither in football, nor in politics, lifestyle or economy,” said spokeswoman Tanja Munzig. “Paul will get back to his former job, namely making children laugh.”
Paul correctly tipped the outcome of all seven of Germany’s games. He made his predictions by opening the lid of one of two clear plastic boxes, each containing a mussel and bearing a team flag.
After his World Cup soothsaying skills were revealed, the English-born Paul was appointed as an ambassador to England’s bid to host the 2018 World Cup. He had English roots, having been hatched at Weymouth Sea Life Center on England’s south coast in 2008.
Imitators sprang up all over the world, including Mani the Parakeet in Singapore and Lorenzo the Parrot in Hannover, Germany.
The latest was a saltwater crocodile named Dirty Harry, who predicted Spain’s World Cup final win and called the result of Australia’s general election by snatching a chicken carcass dangling beneath a caricature of Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
“El Pulpo Paul” became so popular in Spain that the northwestern Spanish town of O Carballino tried to borrow him and made him an “honorary friend.”
In response to hundreds of requests to bring Paul to Spain, the Madrid Zoo 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, either temporarily or for good. But the German aquarium turned down that offer, too.
Paul also had an agent and Paul’s name will live on the Greek island of Zakynthos, where a permanent sea turtle rescue center funded in part by donations generated by the famous octopus is being established.
Associated Press writer David Rising in Berlin and Paul Logothetis in Madrid contributed to this report.