An octopus in New Zealand’s National Aquarium has escaped, travelled across the floor, then squeezed itself down a 50-metre drainpipe and departed into the ocean. Staff said that the octopus named Inky broke out in the middle of the night when no one was around at the national aquarium.

“He managed to make his way to one of the drain holes that go back to the ocean. And off he went,” aquarium manager Rob Yarrall told Radio New Zealand. “And he didn’t even leave us a message.”

A gap left by the aquarium’s maintenance workers on top of Inky’s container made the common New Zealand octopus’ escape possible. According to Yarrall, Inky’s disappearance left the staff sad.


Octopus. Credit: Wikimeida/albert kok

“When we came in the next morning and his tank was empty, I was really surprised,” says Yarrall. “The staff and I have been pretty sad. But then, this is Inky, and he’s always been a bit of a surprise octopus.”

The manager explains that octopuses do not have bones and are very malleable, able to be shaped and bent without breaking, so passing through a very tiny hole is easy. These animals are also renowned as very skilled escape artists.

“I understand the nature of octopus behaviour very well,” said Reiss Jenkinson, the exhibits keeper at the National Aquarium. “I have seen octopus on boats slip through bilge pumps. And the security here is too tight for anyone to take Inky, and why would they?”

Yarrall believes that Inky did not escape due to maltreatment. The manager believes that Inky did it out of curiosity. However, Yarrall has not conducted a search for Inky.

“But Inky really tested the waters here. I don’t think he was unhappy with us, or lonely, as octopus are solitary creatures. But he is such a curious boy,” says Yarrall. “He would want to know what’s happening on the outside. That’s just his personality.”