An undated file picture of tiny poisonous blue-ringed octopuses.
An undated file picture of tiny poisonous blue-ringed octopuses. AAP Image/MARK NORMAN

The great octopus escape: how Inky got away

The animal rights group PETA is hoping the daring escape by Inky the Octopus sends a message to aquariums.

Inky made headlines around the world when it broke out of its tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, slithered across the floor, squeezed down a 50-metre drainpipe and disappeared into the sea.

Inky's escape trail
Inky's escape trail

Napier City Council and Aquarium Manager Rob Yarrall has been fielding media inquiries from all over the world ever since.

He's made headline news on many of the world's top news services including the New York Times, the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, featured on CNN and BBC News and his story has been translated into several languages.


The coverage rivals the amount of international coverage the rescued penguin 'Happy Feet' received back in 2011.

Napier City Council Communications Manager Robyn McLean said the council had five staff working fulltime on responding to media requests for more information about Inky's daring escape.

"It's pretty full-on. It's safe to say Inky has gone completely viral. Maybe he heard about one of the stars of Pixar's upcoming film, Finding Dory, is an octopus called Hank, who is apparently an excellent escape artist too," Ms McLean said.

Animal rights group PETA said the octopus's escape was to be applauded, saying it reinforced the organisation's belief that the marine creatures should not be kept in captivity.

PETA Australia's Claire Fryer claimed that Inky was probably going crazy in its glass tank.

The tank Inky escaped from
The tank Inky escaped from

"Octopuses like Inky are capable of complex thought processes, have long-term memories, use tools, learn through observation and even have the capacity to feel bored," she said.

"We hope this bold escape sends a message to the aquarium to keep its tentacles off octopuses for good."

Inky was given to the centre in 2014 after a fisherman pulled him out of the ocean in a cray pot off the port of Napier.

Mr Yarrell said octopuses were famous for escaping their enclosures, but Inky's getaway was remarkable.

He said like all octopus, Inky had been relatively reclusive and enjoyed his seclusion, despite sharing the enclosure with a companion octopus.

He would also have been inquisitive, and would have taken in his surroundings closely.

Surroundings which included a small gap at the top of his home - a gap he slipped over and then down to the floor, and across to the escape tunnel (drainage pipe).

Staff later found his slippery trail.

"They are always exploring and they are great escape artists," Mr Yarrell said, adding they would be looking closely at the minuscule gap Inky slid over and out of.

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