Giant Pacific octopus Lizzie Blue is in festive mood…thanks to ingenious keepers providing her with her own Advent calendar. Like all octopuses the star of Brighton Sea Life Centre’s special ‘cephalopod’ exhibition is highly intelligent and needs constant stimulation.
“Our Advent calendar, made from a plastic multi-drawer tool box, is perfect for her,” said Curator Carey Duckhouse. “We hide a tasty fishy morsel or crab in the appropriate box each day, and she has to find the right drawer to gain her reward.
“It means sealing up all the other drawers every time so she doesn’t just yank all of them out, but it sets a challenge for her which she really seems to enjoy.”
The special security measures do not always work though and Lizzie managed to break into three other boxes before finding the right one.
Lizzie, who was named in honour of the Queen’s diamond jubilee, is a firm favourite with staff and visitors alike. “We often open up the top of her tank just to play with her,” said Carey. “She wraps her tentacles around our arms but is very gentle, and just seems to enjoy the interaction.”
Evidence of intelligence in octopuses convinced the EU to give them the legal status of ‘honorary vertebrates’ recently, to protect them from cruel treatment by vivisectionists. Brighton Sea Life is campaigning to have them removed from seafood menus for the same reason.
“There are lots of cases of octopuses solving puzzles, unscrewing jam-jars and negotiating complex mazes,” said Carey. “There was one common octopus in a German aquarium which managed three times to fuse a particular light that was bothering it with a well-aimed squirt of water,” she added.
Lizzie and her devoted keepers hope seafood fans will consider making it one of their New Year’s resolutions never again to eat octopus.
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Published 18th December 2013
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