Inky's done a runner: The great octopus escape

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Inky escaped down the drain pipe.
Inky escaped down the drain pipe.

It may not have come close to the daring "great escape" from Stalag Luft III as steered by movie star Steve McQueen but it did involve remarkable ingenuity, lots of thinking and an escape tunnel of course.

If there were a film to be made about Napier's "great escape" incident it could well be titled "Inky's Done a Runner".

One of two octopus in residence at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, Inky has staged a successful escape which would have involved casing the surroundings, making a slippery dash across a well-trod floor and squeezing himself down into a mere 150mm drainage pipe - a pipe which leads to the ocean nearby.

As manager Rob Yarrell pointed out, it was the first escape he had ever been called to report in his years of steering the Marine Parade marine attraction.

"Yes, it's most unusual and yes, we'll be watching the other one."

Mr Yarrell 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.

Sliding into the small pipe would not have been an issue as octopus can squeeze into holes much smaller than themselves.

If their tough beaks can make the tight journey then so can the rest of the soft body.

"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.

Inky had been a popular member of the great aquarium family for about two years having been taken there by a fisherman and one of the aquarium staff who rescued him from a crayfish pot which had been set near Pania Reef.

He was not in the best of shape, showing some scars and a couple of damaged limbs, but he settled in well.

There were no plans at this stage to replace Inky, although if the opportunity emerged that an octopus had been caught and needed a place to live he would be taken in...and more than likely watched quite closely.

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