-- As most of the world’s eyes focus in on Brazil today for the start of the 2014 World Cup, some eyes are looking elsewhere, to nonhumans, to determine which country will win soccer’s biggest crown.
Animals as athletic predictors was popularized at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa when an octopus named Paul correctly predicted the winners of eight World Cup matches. Paul died just months later and now the race is on for who will replace him as the World Cup oracle.
From turtles to pandas to even a kangaroo, the animal options for how to place your World Cup bets are many.
Big Head the Turtle
The home team of Brazil got a boost from the oracle of its own nation, a loggerhead turtle named Big Head, that Tuesday predicted Brazil would beat Croatia in today's opening game.
The 25-year-old male sea turtle signified his pick at the Praia do Forte turtle sanctuary by choosing to eat a fish hung from a Brazilian flag instead of one from the Croatian flag, indicating a Croatian win, or a football, indicating a draw, the Associated Press reports.
Flopsy the Kangaroo
Australia Zoo’s resident kangaroo, Flopsy, is putting her nickname, Predictaroo, to the test in this year’s World Cup. For each of the major matches, the eastern grey kangaroo will nominate the winner by selecting from one of two bowls of kangaroo food, according to zoo officials.
Flopsy is taking her predictions even further this year with her own Twitter account, @Predictaroo, that will announce her picks and feature videos of her tips and selections.
A group of baby pandas in Sichuan, China, will reportedly pick the winners of matches throughout the World Cup by choosing food, climbing trees and racing each other. The South China Morning Post reports that pandas from the Giant Panda Protection and Research Center will compete for food in bamboo baskets in the group matches and then climb trees to reach the flags of different competing nations in the knockout rounds.
Nelly the Elephant
Nelly comes to the 2014 World Cup with a record, reportedly having correctly predicted 30 out of 33 results from the women’s world cup in 2006. Nelly the Elephant makes her picks by, appropriately, kicking a soccer ball into the goal with her trunk. A video from her home in Serengeti Park in Germany shows that Nelly chose Team USA to win its first game against Ghana this Monday.
Roo the Dog
A British pet company has enlisted a so-called psychic bulldog named Roo to pick the winner in the opening game of its home team, England, against Italy June 14. When faced with dog food bowls labeled with the Italian flag, England’s flag and a “draw” bowl, Roo chose his home team of England, the U.K.’s The Guardian reports.
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