June 20, 2018 / 3:37 PM / 10 months ago

Sochi 'oracle' otter sees Russian loss to Uruguay, German comeback

Harry, an oracle otter, sniffs a ball labelled with FIFA World Cup teams signs at the Zoo in Sochi, Russia, June 20, 2018. REUTERS/Evgeny Reutov

SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Russia’s phenomenal run in the World Cup is about to take a hit — at least if you believe in Harry, a so-called “oracle” otter in Sochi who correctly forecast the hosts’ first two victories in the tournament.

After trouncing Saudi Arabia 5-0 and then beating Egypt 3-1, Group A leaders Russia will lose to South American powerhouse Uruguay on Monday, Harry was interpreted as predicting.

When a Sochi aquarium employee tossed two balls into a pool on Wednesday, Harry swam straight over to the one labeled Uruguay, grabbed it in its mouth and dropped it on the side of the pool. The white, blue and red ball symbolizing Russia was left floating.

But even if Harry’s forecast were to come true, Russia have virtually booked their place in the second round. Should Uruguay (3 points) beat Saudi Arabia (zero points) later on Wednesday, it will ensure that the South Americans and the Russians go through to the round of 16 before the they meet in their group game. A draw would also be enough to send the hosts through.

Harry also predicted that defending champions Germany, who crashed to defeat in their first game, will make a comeback: He foresees they will win against Sweden on Saturday.

Spain, however, will have to content themselves with a draw against Iran later on Wednesday, according to Harry.

Harry is one of a menagerie of animals predicting World Cup games, with rivals including Samara’s white goat Zabiyaka, St. Petersburg’s cat Achilles, Kaliningrad’s hippos Milya and Glyasik and Nizhny Novgorod’s tapir Cleopatra.

The Sochi aquarium took Harry in as a baby.

“He was brought here by people who found him at a car wash, they saved him and brought him to us asking if we could take this amazing little otter. Of course, we did,” said aquarium director Zhanna Zazina.

Reporting by Alexandra Ulmer; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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