The great eight-legged escape!

Octopus in a New Zealand aquarium squeezes through drain pipe and flees to the sea
A common octopus out in the wild. ©Wikimedia Commons

The octopus is recognized as one of the most intelligent creatures on the planet. They can use tools, open jars, and, according to some studies, are capable of observational learning (that's learning by watching the behaviour of others).

They're also one of the escape artists of the animal world. Now you can add Inky, a common New Zealand octopus, to the list of octo-fugitives. Inky was a resident of the National Aquarium of New Zealand in the town of Napier, until he most likely made a daring escape that included a "sprint" across the floor and through a drain pipe in the floor. From there, the pipe travelled 50m (165 feet) to Hawke's Bay and freedom.


Wait a minute. Escaped through a drain pipe? How small is this octopus anyway? Well, in addition to their exceptional intelligence, octopus have another remarkable feature that makes them particularly difficult to contain. They're super squishy. Because they have no bones (yep, none at all), they can squeeze their body through holes the size of coins. So take a super smart animal that can slip through the tiniest space, and you've got a real challenge for anyone choosing to keep an octopus in captivity (or as a pet).

Turns out that the folks at the National Aquarium weren't quite up to the challenge. But they're taking the loss of Inky in stride. “The staff and I have been pretty sad," said Rob Yarrell, the aquarium's manager. "But then, this is Inky, and he’s always been a bit of a surprise octopus.”

Inky was one of two octopus in his tank. The other, Blotchy, is still there and being closely looked after. And for now, one octopus will be enough for the aquarium. "Once back out to sea [Inky] would have headed off towards the reef and that would be his life," said Yarrell. "He would be quite happy out there. We wouldn't go try and track him down."

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  1. Wow ? the thing that surprised me the most was that octopuses ? can squeeze through the size of a coin! This is super cooooooooool! Though it is sad Inky is not in the aquarium, he gets to live free so I think he likes that.

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