Inky’s Great Escape Shows Us Why Octopuses Don’t Belong in Aquariums

Posted by 9 months ago | Permalink | Comments (33)

The story of Inky, a male octopus who ingeniously managed to escape from New Zealand’s National Aquarium, has captured the Internet’s imagination this week.

When the lid of his tank was left slightly ajar one night, Inky didn’t waste any time in making a beeline for the exit. The next morning, aquarium staff were puzzled to find just one, rather than two, octopuses in the tank and mysterious tracks across the floor of the room. They concluded that he must have clambered to the top of his enclosure, slid down the side of the tank and slithered 4 metres across the aquarium floor to squeeze himself into a 50-metre drainpipe that led to the sea – and freedom.

This story illustrates octopuses’ well-documented cleverness. The leggy cephalopods have unique personalities and problem-solving abilities, and they have been described as being “the first intelligent beings on the planet”. There are numerous stories of how they’ve caused havoc in aquaria by unscrewing water pipes, short-circuiting the lights and even sneaking fish from neighbouring tanks.

However, Inky also shows us something that should be obvious: animals don’t want to be held captive. Inky was born in the ocean and ended up in the aquarium after he was caught in a fisherman’s cray pot. After being taken from the rich, complex environment of the sea and stuck in a small glass tank, with nowhere to hide from bright lights or gawping human visitors, it’s no wonder that he seized the chance to escape and return to his ocean home.

Aquaria often keep octopuses and other sea animals in almost empty tanks so that visitors can get a better look at them. The lack of stimulation can cause these intelligent beings distress and frustration, as they are denied the opportunity to exercise natural behaviour such as taking shelter under rocks and plants. A study found that animals at 90 per cent of UK aquaria showed stereotypic behaviour as a result of being kept in captivity.

Please help animals like Inky by refusing to visit aquaria and zoos that imprison animals for human entertainment. Instead, learn about sea animals’ fascinating lives by watching nature documentaries or trying out an innovative, immersive virtual reality experience.



  • susanna klugmann commented on April 14, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    animals belong to nature

    • Pauline commented on April 23, 2016 at 6:19 am

      Yes I agree

    • Sujata Little commented on April 25, 2016 at 6:33 pm

      Please stop the cruelty towards all animals-are we so barbaric still? Do we not have the resources to eat wisely instead of becoming obese, and into the bargain stealing land and habitat, and animal food and sustenance.

      • Bev Dyson commented on April 27, 2016 at 11:40 pm

        Yes I agree with you Sujata in stopping animal cruelty but I think your comment about being obese is out of context and does not belong here…

    • Graeme Pryke commented on April 26, 2016 at 11:26 pm

      Hi,you mention not to visit any zoos/aquarias,and that animals should not be kept in captivity ever,but what of those outlets who breed rare animals with intentions of releasing to wild populations and others who rescue animals such as apes from so called research centres and irresponsible pet enthusiasts eg Monkey World in Dorset UK-can you advise this vexed subject??

    • Bev Dyson commented on April 27, 2016 at 11:35 pm

      Yes I agree Please close zoos and set the animals free to roam in a more natural habitat..

  • Della Lurusso commented on April 14, 2016 at 6:12 pm

    Stop this cruelty

  • Barbara Hempenstall commented on April 14, 2016 at 9:52 pm

    There’s an aquarium in Newquay Cornwall uk that has a ver clever octopus in a small tank. It regularly escapes & it should be free . Heart breaking .

  • Loraine Herman commented on April 22, 2016 at 6:07 pm

    Well done Inky. Maybe you could teach those dumb humans a thing or two.

  • Kathryn Pagett commented on April 22, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    If I was a captive octopus in Inky’s situation, I would seize my opportunity to escape. It is no situation for an animal to be in.

  • cassy alexander commented on April 22, 2016 at 7:28 pm

    We humans need to get off our high horse and return to Nature, instead of imprisoning Nature for our own entertainment. Could we possibly be the lowest form of life on Earth?

    • Sharon commented on April 27, 2016 at 8:05 am

      I think we are Cassy.

  • Mrs D Templeman commented on April 22, 2016 at 7:53 pm

    Please end this cruelty now

  • M commented on April 22, 2016 at 7:54 pm

    And we’re supposed to think humans are the superior species? How wrong can we be?

  • Jill commented on April 22, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    We shall repent………..

  • Diane commented on April 22, 2016 at 9:26 pm


  • Gerard commented on April 22, 2016 at 9:31 pm

    animals belong to nature

  • Linda commented on April 22, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    Give him his freedom

  • Joan hampson commented on April 22, 2016 at 11:14 pm

    We need to free all the poor imprisoned animals .make it happen!,

  • Denise commented on April 22, 2016 at 11:20 pm

    Stop this inhuman cruelty to these intelligent creatures now. Animals do not belong to us to use and abuse in this way. With humans thinking behaving like this – seems the animals are far more intelligent than the ignorant, cruel humans who keep them captive

  • Carolin Radcliff commented on April 23, 2016 at 12:35 am

    When humanity realizes that we are ONE with all life, all of these things will end. We MUST have a major shift in consciousness, in order to preserve the natural world we live in! Technologies, such as Virtual Reality could aid, but only if we know that the creatures it shows are in a healthy, natural and safe environment, free of garbage, safe from hunting, and protected from noise pollution!

  • Michelle commented on April 23, 2016 at 3:04 am

    Sad to know that people eat these intelligent octopi. Some places eat them alive. The octopus attempts to escape whilst diners cut into it to consume parts of it!

  • GirlInATrance commented on April 23, 2016 at 3:19 am

    I visited an aquarium up north from where from I live as a child. I find marine animals fascinating and loved aquariums as a child.
    Now, I feel annoyed about the amount of space these creatures have. I wish there was a way for humans and marine animals to interact and learn together but that would mean building viewing areas in the ocean itself which would be difficult without disturbing the habitats.

  • [email protected] commented on April 23, 2016 at 3:54 am

    Way to go Inky!

  • Sandra commented on April 23, 2016 at 7:15 am

    The majority of humans are living with their heads up their you know what. The gift of ‘consciousness’ is wasted on them all because of their chronic indifference or feeble attempts to justify. Compassion is not evolving fast enough for my tastes – it’s a hard world to live in. I weep, suffer & pray for all of my animal brethren & beg them for forgiveness to this stupid master race. I wish I could bring relief to every last one of them.

  • lynn greaves commented on April 23, 2016 at 9:33 am

    dont support these awful places

  • Patrick McCall commented on April 23, 2016 at 11:27 am

    These creatures are highly intelligent and should be treated as such (another intelligent life-form).

  • H Pinder commented on April 23, 2016 at 12:56 pm

    I cannot understand why we humans seem to think we have a right to do as we wish with other creatures. We go into their habitats and basically rape and pillage and feel ok to do so. There are times we are needed to help but mainly this is not the case . I do believe we should always help where needed but not just blunder in and take what we want and then treat them in a very poor way .

  • D Pinder commented on April 23, 2016 at 1:00 pm

    If they must keep Inky then at least give him room to move and be happier , although I think given the choice (which he wasn’t) he would prefer to be free

  • J Pinder commented on April 23, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    It is obvious the aquarium they are keeping there octopus in is not at all suitable for there needs so if they must display them in this way make there lives as happy as possible surely that’s the way

  • A Pinder commented on April 23, 2016 at 1:06 pm

    Please let common sense prevail and stop taking advantage of all creatures to make a display of them because surely we must have realised by now this is not the way to go

  • Stephanie and Jim Lodge commented on April 23, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    The oceans are the places for such beautiful and mysterious creatures, they weren’t created to be confined to such cruel limits. All these creatures
    should be free to do what nature has programmed them to do.

    Aquariums drive them mad after so many years and unable to do what nature dictates – FREE THEM NOW!

  • Lynn Elson commented on April 24, 2016 at 6:02 pm

    It must be be so distressing for them and so cruel They belong in the sea not small tanks.

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