A footballing parrot named Newton on Thursday predicted a French victory against Uruguay in their World Cup quarter-final, becoming the latest in a long line of animal soothsayers.
Newton has been trained to knock around a ball on a small cardboard soccer pitch, and the team whose goal he scores in is taken to be the winner.
So far in the tournament, Newton correctly predicted Sweden’s victory over Switzerland but failed to call the Japan vs. Belgium match or England vs. Colombia, though he did appear to suggest the game would end in penalties by knocking the ball out of the field.
For some species, it takes weeks and weeks to learn to do something (with a ball), whereas it takes five minutes for a kea (species of parrot from New Zealand). You give him a ball, he wants to play with it spontaneously. You put that ball on a flat surface where it'll roll, he rolls it.
Newton, who lives in the small zoo in Paris’s botanical gardens the Jardin des Plantes, belongs to the kea species from New Zealand, who have a reputation for cleverness and love playing games.
Zoo director Michel Saint Jalme said Newton took to football like a professional, and on Thursday afternoon he was training again with each goal rewarded with a piece of dried fruit.
“For some species, it takes weeks and weeks to learn to do something (with a ball), whereas it takes five minutes for a kea (species of parrot from New Zealand). You give him a ball, he wants to play with it spontaneously. You put that ball on a flat surface where it’ll roll, he rolls it”, said Saint Jalme.
Newton is one of a whole host of animals including a cat, an otter and white goat roped in to predict the results of the World Cup.
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