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World Celebrates as Inky the Octopus, Escape Artist, Wins Permanent Liberty


The National Aquarium of New Zealand does not seem to be shedding any tears over the celebrated great escape of its octopus Inky, which is garnering worldwide acclaim. On the contrary the loss is no doubt greatly offset by the fine publicity in the wake of Inky’s deed.

And it’s hard not to applaud what seems to be the beast’s will to be free. After hours, via a series of contortions, he hoisted himself out of a carelessly secured aquarium, lured by the sounds of the ocean from a narrow drainpipe across the floor, which he made his way across, and slipped down and out. Almost no squeeze it too tight for an octopus. The authorities are not searching for Inky to return him to captivity. He is permanently at liberty.

From CNN:

An enterprising octopus spotted his chance to escape from a New Zealand aquarium — and took it.

Squeezing out from a gap at the top of his tank, the “inquisitive” octopus, Inky, slithered across the floor of the aquarium and down a seawater runoff pipe to Hawke’s Bay, and freedom.

“Octopus are very intelligent, very inquisitive and like to push the boundaries,” said Rob Yarrell, the manager of the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

“This particular one was very friendly and intelligent and obviously found a weak spot in the top of his tank.”

Inky, a common New Zealand octopus who had been caught by a local crayfisherman off the coast of Napier and donated to the aquarium, appears to be a credit to his species.

Review these videos of octopus escapes — the most striking being the guy that on being confined in a jar with a screw-top lid immediately unscrews it from within. Evolving the ability to do that is impressive when you consider that threaded screw tops are an invention of the 19th century:

They are impeded only by the size of their parrot-like beak, which is the sole hard part of an octopus. All else is almost infinitely malleable:


Here’s one at our local aquarium that tried but failed to get free:

We’ve noted in the past some of the evolutionary enigmas of these beautiful animals. See:

It’s not a mistake to attribute will or wiliness to an octopus, or a love of freedom. Animals are not robots. Our ability to recognize, appreciate, and admire qualities we share with them is among the things that makes human beings exceptional.

Image credit: National Aquarium of New Zealand via Facebook.

David Klinghoffer

Senior Fellow and Editor, Evolution News
David Klinghoffer is a Senior Fellow at Discovery Institute and the editor of Evolution News & Science Today, the daily voice of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science & Culture, reporting on intelligent design, evolution, and the intersection of science and culture. Klinghoffer is also the author of six books, a former senior editor and literary editor at National Review magazine, and has written for the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Seattle Times, Commentary, and other publications. Born in Santa Monica, California, he graduated from Brown University in 1987 with an A.B. magna cum laude in comparative literature and religious studies. David lives near Seattle, Washington, with his wife and children.