A 2-year-old polar bear rescued from Russia's Far East who now lives in the Moscow Region has developed not only an interest in football, but quite impressive prediction skills, her carers say, introducing Nika the Bear as an official FIFA oracle.
The female bear, who had been injured and left all alone, wandering off the normal polar bears' migration route, was rescued a year ago in Chukotka. Her psychic abilities seemingly helped her survive, as she crawled under the house of kind-hearted locals.
The people had been feeding fish to the huge and potentially dangerous animal until vets from the Moscow Zoo were alerted and transported the bear to a Moscow Region nursery.
"We've noticed our bear has a sixth sense, she knows what day the cleaners will come in, whether she'll get ordinary grub or get treated with some delicious food. She can even sense new balls coming her way," Nika's carer, Aleksandr Igorov, says.
Football is the bear's real passion, he adds: "She plays really well with soccer balls and swims with them in the pool. She loves them so much that sometimes uses the balls as her pillow when she sleeps."
Bearing in mind Nika's skills in predicting what's going to happen, the Moscow Zoo has contacted FIFA officials, with the bear now supporting Welcome2018 – the official tourist platform for the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Along with her now part-time oracle job, Nika is believed "to play a valuable role in the Moscow Zoo reproduction and conservation program for polar bears," its spokesperson said.
So far, Nika has predicted Mexico to win over Portugal in their Confed Cup game on Monday, and Australia to be defeated by Germany on Tuesday.
What is certain is that Nika will get plenty of food treats between June 17 and July 2. To make a prediction and choose her match-winning favorite throughout the tournament, she will be given two bowls of food.
The same method to predict results for the Confed Cup matches is used with another "animal psychic," Achilles the cat from St. Petersburg.
Earlier this week, the feline oracle, who has been long living in the famous Hermitage museum to protect its exhibits of world importance from rodents, was revealed as the cup's animal predictor.