Saturday, February 14, 2009

Eight arms to hold you

Octopus love.

Visitors to the Portobello Aquarium loved Sid the octopus but all Sid wanted was to find a mate. After several escape attempts worthy of Houdini, he finally tasted freedom yesterday, with his keepers returning him to the ocean just in time for Valentine's Day.


Matthew Crane, Portobello's senior aquarist, came in one morning to find Sid gone. Staff looked high and low. One of his tank's sliding plastic doors was ajar but it was not clear whether someone had left it open by mistake, or whether he had opened it himself. Five days later, he was found inside a drainage system that pumps sea water through the aquarium. He was trying to sidle out through a door.

A few weeks later, Sid made a second dash for freedom. Again, his door was found ajar. Located a few hours later, he made several more escape attempts, usually when his tank was being cleaned. Staff would see one tentacle emerge from the tank, then another. "We thought he must be actively seeking a mate," said Mr Crane. "So we decided it might be best to let him go back to nature."

Yesterday afternoon, Mr Crane transferred Sid to a plastic bucket and carried him to the water's edge, 300 yards away. Even during that short walk, Sid was trying to lift the lid off the bucket. Then he was ceremoniously dumped in the ocean. "We watched him swim away," said Mr Crane. "He was a good healthy colour and he looked quite happy." —The Independent

(Via Jenny D)


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