Meet the World Cup's endangered armadillo mascot

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SAO PAULO – Fuleco, the official mascot of the World Cup, is cute and cuddly and wears the kind of confident smile you might expect from a cartoon figure that will be part of soccer’s most important showpiece.

He also, sadly, represents a species hovering on the verge of extinction and caught in the middle of a conservation battle involving soccer’s world governing body FIFA and outraged environmentalists.

Fuleco is based upon the rare Brazilian three-banded armadillo and might be the most perfect choice as mascot in tournament history, given that the animal’s unique defense system to protect itself from predators is by rolling itself up into a ball.
— Martin Rogers

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