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Octopus Escapes From New Zealand Aquarium

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His tank was left open. This was the golden opportunity Inky needed to set his escape plan afoot.

In the dead of night, the octopus clambered over his glass enclosure, scurried three or four metres across the aquarium floor and sprung himself into the 50-metre drain pipe that would take him back to the ocean.

No, that isn't the beginning of a new Disney movie — that is the story of how an octopus escaped the National Aquarium of New Zealand earlier this year.

The staff were surprised when they came in the morning following Inky's breakout, they found an empty tank and prints that suggested his escape route. "He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean, and off he went,” Rob Yarrell, national manager of the aquarium told Radio New Zealand. "Didn’t even leave us a message."

Even though Inky departed three months ago, it's only coming to light now.


Photo of Inky on the National Aquarium of New Zealand's Facebook page.

"Octopuses are famous escape artists," Yarell told the Guardian.

He's not wrong. The Journal of Applied Animal Welfare Science published a whole article about it in 2004 called "Interspecific Evaluation of Octopus Escape Behavior." The paper, written by James Wood starts "Written records of octopuses leaving the water have existed for over 2,000 years to the time of Aristotle." So octopi have been out-smarting humans basically since time immemorial.

Inky may have gone in search of a better life but he will be missed. "The staff and I have been pretty sad. But then, this is Inky, and he’s always been a bit of a surprise octopus," Yarell said to the Guardian.

Inky joined the aquarium two years ago when a volunteer fisherman brought him in.

Even though he's gone, the staff have no intention of replacing him and remain hopeful. "You never know. Inky could come home to us," Yarell said.

But it seems Inky prefers the internet. It didn't take long for a few parody accounts to spring up. Or for people to start talking movie deals. Or set up a pedestal for him. Or wonder what his motivations were. Or, finally, worry for our future.

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