HomeOutdoorsNewsThese ‘Psychic’ Animals Are Predicting the World Cup Games

These ‘Psychic’ Animals Are Predicting the World Cup Games

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Ernie Decker via Getty Images)

Earlier this month, 32 teams from around the world gathered in Qatar for this year’s FIFA World Cup. Over the span of four weeks, they will compete in 64 thrilling matches to determine which nation will take home the $440 million prize and the coveted World Cup trophy.

As the days wear on, millions upon millions of dollars are being poured into bets all around the world, with countless hoping to predict the outcomes correctly and get a taste of sweet victory. Experts estimate that $136 billion was staked globally on the World Cup teams in 2018 alone. This year, that number is expected to be even higher.

With that kind of money on the line, betters use all kinds of strange methods to predict the future. Relying on your own intuition is for the birds, especially when it comes to the World Cup. And what’s better than an educated guess? A psychic animal, obviously.

The animal picks started in 2010. As the action raged on in South Africa, Paul the psychic octopus correctly predicted eight World Cup winners in a row from his tank in a German aquarium. His successor, Rubio the octopus, was slightly less lucky. Though he had a 100% success rate in 2018, the mystic mollusk didn’t have the luxury of a cushy aquarium tank and was chopped up and eaten in his Japanese home, bringing his career to an abrupt end.

This year, gamblers have placed their trust in an aquatic animal of a different kind. When given a tiny football and three buckets to choose from, Taiyo the otter correctly placed his bets on Japan in their match against Germany.

Scientists Claim Psychic Animals Don’t Exist

When you have Nelly the elephant, who had a streak of 30 out of 33 matches in the 2006 and 2010 World Cup, and Camilla the mystic camel, who correctly predicted the Three Lion’s win over Iran in Qatar and is reportedly “never wrong,” you begin to wonder if some animals really are gifted psychics.

According to scientists, however, it all boils down to luck and wishful thinking. When Achilles, a deaf white cat living in the basement of the St. Petersburg Hermitage Museum accurately predicted winners of soccer matches, trainers claimed that the animal was psychic. But cat researcher Kristyn Vitale couldn’t disagree more.

“I am not convinced,” Vitale told National Geographic. “There’s just been no research in that kind of thing.”

Instead, Vitale believes that Achilles and psychic animals like him are simply picking up on subtle cues from humans. “Any cognizant animal has the ability to look at the world around them and make associations,” she said. “It’s an interesting cultural phenomenon that we’re going to animals and asking them to predict things.”

For Lori Marino, a neuroscientist and expert in animal behavior, the use of psychic animals in betting is downright disrespectful. “There may be some people who actually come to like the animals in this way,” Marino explained. “But I think generally, it’s much more negative than positive.”

“There’s really no substantive scientific evidence that there are supernatural psychic abilities,” she continued. “Let the animals be who they are. Let’s stop making them into objects or commodities.”