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ST. PETERSBURG, July 6. /TASS/. The State Hermitage Museum, one of the most popular tourist sites in St. Petersburg, has rejected all adoption requests for Achilles the cat, the fortuneteller of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, local officials said on Thursday.
"This cat is a real oracle. He guessed the results of almost all matches. We hope he will not let us down next year (when Russia will host the World Cup)," said Andrey Mushkarev, the head of the St. Petersburg committee for tourism.
Achilles, a white male cat, made his choice by eating from one of two bowls, decorated with team flags and guessed the outcome of three of four games of the Confederations Cup that took place in St. Petersburg.
He tipped Russia for the opening match with New Zealand. He also predicted Portugal’s victory over New Zealand and Germany’s triumph in the finals.
He also selected Australia to beat Cameroon but the game ended in a draw. However, Achilles was given just two bowls and had no ‘draw’ option.
According to Mushkarev, the cat has become a media celebrity both in Russia and abroad.
"More than 50 million people read reports about him and this is a great success and it will be even greater next year," the official said, adding that Achilles will get social media promotion ahead of the World Cup.
Maria Khaltunen, a press secretary for Hermitage cats, said Achilles was selected as the animal oracle as "he had displayed capabilities for choice, analysis and unusual behavior."
Another candidates were a black female cat and a red male cat.
Moreover, Achilles is deaf as many white cats are, yet this impairment does not sidetrack the feline and lets him better concentrate on his predictions.
The Hermitage, which is not only one of the world’s largest museums but also home for some 50-60 cats, at first planned to find a family for Achilles and got 37 adoption requests, including from football players.
However, after the Confederations Cup the museum decided that the cat will continue ‘working’ as an animal oracle at the 2018 World Cup, which will be held next summer in 11 Russian cities, including St. Petersburg.
Cats have lived at in the museum, originally a royal residence, since the middle of 18th century when Empress Elizabeth, the daughter of Peter the Great ordered cats to be placed in the palace to fend off mice.