Geneva: A Swiss guinea pig has joined a menagerie of soothsaying animals tasked with predicting World Cup scores after the 2010 success of deceased soccer oracle Paul the Octopus.
Madame Shiva is setting her sights lower than other animal pundits, however, by focusing only on her home team’s matches in Brazil.
The 20-month-old guinea pig has already tipped Switzerland to beat Ecuador in their opening Group E game on Sunday, said the international development charity Swissaid, which put Madame Shiva’s skills to the test.
She was placed on a mini soccer pitch with the colours of Switzerland and Ecuador at either end.
With a brief sniff of the pitch, Madame Shiva darted to the Swiss end, where in a sign of approval, she left a single dropping.
She was watched by former Switzerland manager, Frenchman Gilbert Gress, who said she was spot on.
“Her prediction tallies with what’s going to happen on Sunday, when Switzerland beat Ecuador,” Gress said.
Madame Shiva’s next job will be to forecast the result of her team’s crunch clash with neighbours France on June 20, and their final group match against Honduras five days later.
Her job will continue if the “Nati” achieve their goal of at least a berth in the knock-out stages.
Swissaid said Madame Shiva’s new role was about more than football.
The charity works closely with smallholders in Latin America, notably Ecuador — where guinea pigs are raised for meat and their droppings are used for organic compost â€“ and it aims to raise awareness of the animals’ importance.
Paul, the German octopus, won worldwide fame by correctly predicting the results of several games at the 2010 World Cup using its tentacles. It died shortly after the tournament.
Its success spawned imitators for Euro 2012 including a pig, an Indian elephant and a raccoon.
Besides Madame Shiva, other furry friends aiming to claim the punditry crown this time include a crack team of baby pandas in China.