CURITIBA, Brazil (NBC/RTV/KXAN) — Ever since Paul the octopus made his name predicting results at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the search has been on for an animal to beat him.
Brazilian host city Curitiba thinks it’s found the answer with this group of capybaras.
The capybaras outshine Paul by not only foreseeing the result but the style of play as well.
“They are cute. They are huge rats. They are awesome,” said City Hall spokesman Alvaro Borba. “And actually, other predicting animals, they only tell you the results. Capybaras are different. They something about the philosophy behind soccer, behind football. They are awesome because of that.”
The capybaras were given two tasks: to predict the outcome of Brazil versus Cameroon and Spain versus Australia.
For the Brazil-Cameroon match, the capybaras didn’t go for the carrots placed in two contending goalposts and instead, just laid out on the field.
A city hall spokesman believes that says a lot about the game in prospect.
“Quite a lazy game. Yeah, we can say that because we saw our water rats. They were all laying around in a lazy way, not doing much, not moving so much,” said Borba. “That means the ball is going to be stuck in the midfield. Nothing is going to happen at that game. It is going to be a game, a really boring game. I’m sorry to say that, but capybara prediction is a science. You can trust it.”
The capybaras were a little livelier when predicting the Spain-Australia match.
Both countries’ goalposts were visited by capybaras, but a baby capybara almost headed straight for the Australia net, too — only to veer off at the last minute.
“Both teams are going to score, that is guaranteed,” said Borba. “But at the very end of the prediction, a small capybara — a really small one — it just crossed the field, and it showed some interest for the Australian goal. That means Australia has got a small chance of turning everything up, of winning this game.”
In case you’re wondering: “What exactly IS a capybara?”
We’ve got the answer, via Wikipedia.
The capybara is the largest rodent in the world, followed by the beaver, porcupine, and mara. Its closest relatives are guinea pigs and rock cavies, and it is more distantly related to the agouti, chinchillas, and the coypu.
Native to South America, the capybara inhabits savannas and dense forests and lives near bodies of water. It is a highly social species and can be found in groups as large as 100 but usually lives in groups of 10- to 20.
Capybaras are herbivores, grazing mainly on grasses and aquatic plants, as well as fruit and tree bark. They are very selective feedersand will feed on the leaves of one species and disregard other species surrounding it.
Retired veteran KXAN reporter Jim Swift happened to find a capybara living as a family pet in Central Texas.