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Can this French giraffe correctly predict the Rugby World Cup results?

Move over Achilles (left) and Paul (right) - Obano the Giraffe is getting in on the prediction game
Move over Achilles (left) and Paul (right) - Obano the Giraffe is getting in on the prediction game Copyright AP, Facebook - Parc de Banféré
Copyright AP, Facebook - Parc de Banféré
By David Mouriquand
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Move over Achilles the Cat and Paul the Octopus - Obano the Giraffe is getting in on the prediction game...


We’ve had Paul the Octopus and his impressive 87% success rate during the Euro 2008 and 2010 Football World Cup. Then came Achilles the Cat, who was 2018’s World Cup overly patriotic animal oracle.

Make way for the big guns... Well, taller ones.

A French giraffe, Obano, has predicted the outcome of France’s first match of the Rugby World Cup last week, and seems set to join the pantheon of famed animal prognosticators. He correctly predicted that France would triumph over the All Blacks, and low and behold, France beat New Zealand last Friday 27 – 13.

Obano is the oldest male giraffe at Branféré in Morbihan, in Brittany. His success rate (one-for-one) has yet to be fully confirmed, but all eyes are on his forecast for France’s game against Uruguay on Thursday (14 September).

Facebook - Parc de Branféré
Obano predicting France's winFacebook - Parc de Branféré

The hoofed mammal isn’t new on the scene, mind you, as psychic sport-predicting animals have become a regular fixture during big sporting events, as well as referendum results and presidential elections. Cast your mind back to Scottish political pundit Boots the Goat, who called the Brexit referendum, and English micro-pig Mystic Marcus, who supposedly predicted the winner of the 2016 US presidential election and the Brexit referendum result by selecting apples placed on the ground.

Sticking with sports though, here are some of the animal kingdom’s most famous fortune tellers.

Paul the Octopus

Volker Hartmann/AP
Paul the Octopus - pictured in the Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany - June 2010Volker Hartmann/AP

Paul won the hearts of football fans, especially during the 2010 World Cup. He had an overall success rate of 85%. The prophetic cephalopod made eight correct predictions during the World Cup and predicted Spain’s win in the final. Paul’s method was to open a box decorated with a flag – boxes which had a mussel treat inside.

He retired after the 2010 World Cup and spent the rest of his days in Germany’s Oberhausen Sea Life Center. He died three months after the tournament – hopefully not because of the media pressure or insults. Indeed, when he correctly prophesized Germany’s win against Argentina, Argentinian chef Nicholas Bederrou posted an octopus recipe on Facebook and many South Americans made paella threats. Ouch.

Mani the Parakeet

Joan Leong/AP
Mani making his picksJoan Leong/AP

The 2010 World Cup had another animal prophet: Mani, the Singapore residing parakeet. Mani correctly predicted all four quarter-final results by choosing from cards (otherwise known as cartomancy). He called the semi-final wrong and chose the Netherlands over Spain in the final, leading many to side with Team Paul. After his World Cup stint, Mani resumed working for a fortune teller specializing in “parrot astrology”.

Nelly the Elephant

Paul was a huge celebrity, but Nelly the Elephant’s 90% success rate made her more clairvoyant. She made predictions about the 2006 Women’s World Cup, Euro 2008 and the 2010 World Cup, kicking balls into nets marked by country flags. She correctly scored 30 out of 33 times.

Panda Cubs

China's failed panda cub attemptAFP

China’s attempt to gain fame for their fortune-telling animals fell flat in 2014. The nation’s state media announced it would have a group of panda cubs at its Giant Panda Protection and Research Centre predict winners by climbing trees to choose flags. Sadly, the whole thing was called off. Maybe the bamboozling pressures that came with the limelight was considered too much for them.

Achilles the Cat

Dmitri Lovetsky / AP
Achilles the patriotic catDmitri Lovetsky / AP

Achilles was 2018’s World Cup animal oracle. Based in the Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, the blind feline chose between bowls of cat food marked with countries. He was heavily biased though, as he picked Russia every single time. “He loves his motherland and couldn’t vote otherwise,” said the Hermitage’s in-house vet, a comment which led many to suspect that the forecasting talents of Achilles – much like those of the other animals – are more down to human influence. Suspected tactics include baiting one choice with more appealing smells, fuller bowls of food, preference for certain colours or even handling skills honed to direct the animal towards a certain side.

We'll keep you posted on his high-ness Obano's further prognostics as the Rugby World Cup continues.

Additional sources • Ouest-France

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