Let Paul the awesome octopus stay in his tank
An event the size of a World Cup will always have surprises but a few weeks ago it must have been impossible odds that at the end of the tournament it would be a cephalopod, not a player, that everyone would be talking about.
Paul the octopus is a bigger global star than Andres Iniesta, the man who scored the winning goal deep in extra time to win Spain their first World Cup.
And Paul should now be allowed to stay in his tank. Since his predictions started making headlines last month the world’s most media-savvy animal rights campaigners PETA have been arguing Paul should be set free. What a bunch of killjoys.
Nothing has done more for octopus awareness in our lifetimes than this oracle, who correctly predicted the winner of eight World Cup matches.
Enlightened zoos, conservationists, and veterinarians around the world operate on the principle that putting some of nature’s greatest achievements on public display protects them in the long run.
But it’s not just about the ethics of animal captivity: this is about PETA wanting to scupper a fairy tale has been enjoyed by millions around the world. The story of Paul the octopus is simply great fun.
Let’s recap. He is an octopus who lives in a German aquarium. Before a range of World Cup games he was presented with two boxes, each containing a treat and the flags of the competing teams. And he correctly picked the winner’s box eight times, including Spain’s against the Netherlands in today’s final.
In doing so he has captivated the world. He’s a global star.
The odds that this would happen by chance are 1 in 256 – not quite a winning-the-lotto stretch, but just enough to make you wonder if the little critter has something special about him.
Paul’s achievements may be the subject of much mirth and sparked a wave of bad jokes, but beneath it all there’s the thrilling, nagging question of whether there’s something else going on than an octopus grabbing a snack.
The logical extension of this is that maybe there’s something special about octopi in general.
And this can only be good for cephalopods everywhere. Let him stay in his tank, living out his days safe and well-fed, hopefully making the occasional prediction here and there.
If PETA had their way, this would be lost. For a group that campaigns a cause that’s so agreeable to mainstream opinion – who doesn’t want to protect animals? – this is an organisation whose wacky protests are starting to make them look decidedly marginal.
You might remember they Barack Obama a “humane fly catching device” after he impressively karate-chopped a fly during a television interview.
Sometimes, to do good for animals, keeping them in captivity is a necessary evil.
Besides, enjoying Paul’s predictions is not the same as being in favour of keeping animals in captivity.
It is possible to be against animal cruelty and get a thrill out of Paul’s predictions.
PETA, for once, let people have their fun with an animal.
Paul, we salute you. Eight times over.
Update: The Herald Sun has asked some Melburnian octopi who will win the federal election - there’s video of it here.
Update 2: Not to be outdone, the Northern Territory has a “psychic animal” of its own: Harry the 700kg crocodile. There’s a story and video here.
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