No sooner had death’s tentacles slackened their grip on Paul’s squidgy body, when the first conspiracy theory concerning his demise emerged like a cephalopod from a crevice.
Not everyone, it seems, is prepared to accept the news that the “psychic” octopus, who made such a splash in June and July by successfully predicting the results of Fifa World Cup games, died in the comfort of the German aquarium he called home.
According to Jiang Xiao, the director of a forthcoming thriller titled Who Killed Paul the Octopus?, the creature had really been dead for the past three months. Jiang told the Guardian she was “60% to 70% sure” Paul had died in July and had been secretly replaced by his keepers.
Explaining how such a deception could have been perpetrated, she said: “[Octopuses] all look the same. It is impossible to tell the difference.”
Jiang said she thought it was “kind of strange” that news of Paul’s death had broken not long after the Oberhausen Sea Life Centre in western Germany had contacted her team to say they were keen to cooperate on the international distribution of her film.
“We have been keeping in touch with the German aquarium ever since the beginning [of production] but it seemed to me that they were afraid,” she said. “The movie is about unveiling the inside story behind the octopus miracle, so they felt nervous.
“For the movie, we had done quite a lot of investigation and I am 60% to 70% sure that Paul died on July 9 [two days before the World Cup final] and the Germans have been covering up his death and fooling us.”
Jiang declined to explain why she believed Paul had died in July — or to say more about the revelations in the movie. Her allegations of submarine jiggery-pokery met with polite bafflement in Germany.
“It’s certainly not true that Paul died in the summer [June/July],” said a spokeswoman for the aquarium.
“We can absolutely assure you that he died last night. He was about two-and-a-half, which is the average age for an octopus. He died a simple and straightforward death.”
Paul is due to be cremated in the next few days.
His ashes will be placed in an urn and displayed in a shrine, with a portrait and video clips from his life, the spokeswoman said. “We’ve already set up a condolence book in which people can write their tributes to Paul,” she said.
But what of the rumours that Paul had pulled off one last magnificent psychic coup by predicting his own death? “If he did, he kept it to himself,” she said. —