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Nature & Environment

Zoo seeks challenges for intelligent octopus

By T.K. Randall
August 26, 2015 · Comment icon 14 comments



The octopus is an intelligent and inquisitive species. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Eistreter
An octopus named Ursula has been impressing zoo keepers with her uncanny puzzle-solving abilities.
The eight-legged cephalopod, which has long exhibited an uncanny knack for successfully manipulating any objects placed in her tank, is now considered so brainy that zoo keepers are seeking outside assistance to help them find a puzzle suitability tailored to her skills.

The two-year-old octopus has already proven adept at a range of different tasks including unscrewing jar lids, manipulating toy building blocks and unfastening catches.

"She is very active and inquisitive," said Living Coasts operations manager Clare Rugg. "She took only 10 seconds to open a waterproof casing for a camera - it took a human longer to work it out."

"We give her a lot of what we call environmental enrichment, it's what zoos do to stimulate animals mentally and physically. It's like giving toys to pets but with a more scientific basis. We would like to invite people to devise puzzles or games for Ursula."
Anyone who is able to devise a puzzle that stumps the octopus will be invited to come and meet her.

"In the past, she has had water pistols, a Mr Potato Head toy and plastic mesh cages," said keeper Sarah Tingvoll. "She interacts with anything you put in the tank, including cleaning equipment."

"One of her favourite games is to grab our cleaning equipment and have a tug of war."

"She is very strong and will always win."

Source: BT.com | Comments (14)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #5 Posted by markdohle 7 years ago
Not necessarily. As far as I know there is a genetic basis for intelligence so if she reproduces then chances are there is a high possibility that her children will be of somewhat similar intelligence. Learning may not be passed on from generation to generation, however intelligence most certainly can be. We teach and pass on. If that can't be done, not sure it will go anywhere......unless they get longer lifespans. Peace Mark
Comment icon #6 Posted by Father Merrin 7 years ago
Am i correct in saying there was an octopus during the last world cup that predicted the outcome of evey single match in the tournament?
Comment icon #7 Posted by F3SS 7 years ago
Look no further than toys 'r us for the challenge. Give it a jigsaw puzzle.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Varelse 7 years ago
Give it a Nintendo 64, a Super Mario Bros cartridge and a controller.
Comment icon #9 Posted by paperdyer 7 years ago
It might be interesting to give her a set of Legos and see what she can build out of them.
Comment icon #10 Posted by Junior Chubb 7 years ago
Give it a UM account and see what happens... Reading users posts on here is often a great way to gauge intelligence.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Sundew 7 years ago
Give it a UM account and see what happens... Reading users posts on here is often a great way to gauge intelligence. That's a terrible thing to do to a poor animal.....
Comment icon #12 Posted by Sundew 7 years ago
Not necessarily. As far as I know there is a genetic basis for intelligence so if she reproduces then chances are there is a high possibility that her children will be of somewhat similar intelligence. Learning may not be passed on from generation to generation, however intelligence most certainly can be. You have a point, but unless learning can be passed on and profited by in the next generation, intelligence can probably only go so far. There was a heron I saw on television that was filmed taking bread fed to pigeons down to the lake to lure fish within striking distance, and it was highly ... [More]
Comment icon #13 Posted by Cionaodh 7 years ago
yeah that octopus Paul picked winners in world cup 2010. but failed on 2. 11 out 13 right. 50/50 for right or wrong, nothing too interesting tbh
Comment icon #14 Posted by Deirdre Alexandra143 7 years ago
Can you please teach Ursula how to play chess crack codes and play sudoko and do a crossword and text message on a cell phone and play a video game all at the same time ..I know it sounds ridiculous..but just to see how focused and well she does at multitask ing..I bet the results will surprise us all..they seem to be super intelligent species.


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