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Monday, July 6, 2015

Zincha, the mascot of Copa America ...and the psychic red fox

Chile has never won a major trophy before. Now they are the proud winners of the 44th edition of  CopaAmérica, the main international football tournament for national teams in South America, that took place in Chile. Twelve teams competed;   Uruguay were the defending champions, but were eliminated by the hosts in the quarter–finals.

A mascot is any person, animal, or object thought to bring luck or anything used to represent a group with a common public identity, such as a school, professional sports team, society, military unit, or brand name. In the world of sports, mascots are also used for merchandising.Costumed mascots are commonplace, and are regularly used as goodwill ambassadors in the community.

Buin is a commune of Chile, 35 km south of the regional capital.  Of its many attractions is the Zoo, comprising many animals and known for its conservation initiative, care of endangered species and breeding programs for optimal health of the animals. Its web claims that animals  are organized within the park according to the geographical area to which they belong: American Zone, Chilean, Asia-Pacific, European and African.  It reportedly started with people bringing injured wild animals and exotic pets to the farm for rehabilitation; some  could not be returned to the wild after they recovered and became permanent residents at what would eventually become the largest zoo in Chile.

Like Olympics and many other tournaments, each Copa América since 1987 has its own mascot. Gardelito, the mascot for the 1987 competition, was the first Copa América mascot. Gardelito was a handsome, manly little doll representing the famous tango singer Carlos Gardel, an Argentine idol…… for the recently concluded one it was ‘Zincha’, a young culpeo fox ~the name was chosen by the public over two other options, "Andi" and "Kul".The culpeo is a South American species of fox bearing similarities to the recognized red fox. It has grey and reddish fur, a white chin, reddish legs, and a stripe on its back that may be barely visible.The culpeo's diet consists largely of rodents, rabbits, birds and lizards, and to a lesser extent, plant material and carrion. In some regions it has become rare, but overall the species is not threatened with extinction.

Zincha, a young Andean fox native to Chile, the mascot, at first glance, would look to provide  welcome respite from the overcomplicated justifications that follow modern mascots. But according to its detractors, Zincha is a one-dimensional fox. Zincha is not cuddly. Zincha has sharp edges and is definitely not childproof. Zincha has mad eyebrows and a slight slice in one, presumably designed to appeal towards ‘urban’ fans. Zincha is not fun and family friendly. Zincha is not designed for kids.  They say that Zincha was created as a marketing ploy to squeeze cash out of South American fans. Before earning the name ‘Zincha,’ tournament organizers presented fans with three options, with the final name to be the one that garnered the most votes in a poll; a poll in which fans had to pay to take part.

Photo credit : http://faculty.ucr.edu/
In the World of Sports, prediction often is interesting – either for stakes or even otherwise.  In the 2010 FIFA World cup,  it was the divination of - Paul the Octopus,  a two-year-old common octopus with a history of correctly predicting the results of major German international football matches especially in the 2010 FIFA World Cup.  The ungainly looking creature was hatched at the Sea LifePark in Weymouth, England but resided at Sea Life Aquarium in Oberhausen, Germany.  Before German international football matches, Paul was presented with food in two identical containers; one container marked with the flag of Germany and the other is marked with the flag of Germany's opponent. In each instance, Paul's choice of food was interpreted as his predicted victor. Paul reportedly chose  the winner correctly in five of Germany's six UEFA Euro 2008 matches, predicting that Germany would win every match except a loss to Croatia. 

The psychic Paul the Octopus was not alone; a rare two-headed tortoise called Magdalena, German cross-eyed opossum called Heidi, Indian elephant named Chitta at Krakow zoo, Brett the zebra, TianTian the giant panda, Barry the box jellyfish, Elmer the spot-breasted ibis, Chiyo the Thompson’s gazelle and Stephen the slime mold. Joining the list is the red fox ‘Zincha’ from Buin Zoo which by chosing a goal predicted Chile to be the winner.  Red fox "Zincha" on Friday made his prediction for the second match of Chile in the 2015 Copa America against Mexico to be held on June 15 and which predicted the triumph of Chile and its prediction [or coincidence] is proved right as Chine won the Copa America.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar

6th July 2015.

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