The 2014 World Cup is underway in Brazil, which here in New York means soccer fans crowding sports bars at night and computer monitors by day, jersey-clad subway riders cursing weak cell phone signals while refreshing their smartphone livestream, and the occasional shouting of “GGGGOOOOAAAALLLL!” from an apartment/office/cubicle down the hall. It also means quirky, heartwarming stories about animals who successfully predict winning teams.
The bar is set pretty high for animal oracles ever since Paul the Octopus correctly predicted the 2012 World Cup winner. (Paul died several months later at two-and-a-half years old, which Wikipedia says is a normal life span for an octopus, and was memorialized in today’s World Cup-themed Google Doodle.) But the Jerusalem Post reports on a new contender for the preternatural throne: a red-ruffed lemur in Tel Aviv named Max.
Max, who has lived at the Zoological Center Tel Aviv-Ramat Gan Safari for 12 years, is described as an extremely friendly creature. Zoo spokesperson Sagit Horowitz explained to the Jerusalem Post how they orchestrate the elaborate guessing game. Basically, it involves food. A lot of it.
“We put three dishes in front of him, she said. “Two have flags of the competing countries and the third in the middle written ‘tie’”.
Max’s job is to pick which dish he wants to eat from first.
So far Max has correctly predicted seven out of 12 matches Horowitz said. His winning predictions include: Brazil, Holland, Columbia and Costa Rica.
Mazel tov, Max. But you’re going to need to up that ratio if you want a place in World Cup history.