Inky the octopus made a break for it through a pipe, escaping from the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

NAPIER, NZ — In a tale of intrigue and derring-do, the crafty cephalopod slipped out of his enclosure and found his way to freedom.

Houdini would be proud. Inky the octopus has flown the coop, or more accurately, slinked the pipe. In one of the best animal escape stories ever, the common New Zealand octopus at the National Aquarium of New Zealand was apparently thinking on his feet when the lid to his tank was left ajar. Inky made a mad dash, well more likely a slow sidle, for freedom, serving as inspiration for confined cephalopods everywhere.

Staff at the aquarium believe that in the thick of night, while the aquarium was empty of people, Inky discovered that his lid was left open after the tank had been cleaned. He apparently made his way down the side of the tank and across the floor more than 10 feet to the drain. From there, in his best prison escape movie maneuvering-through-a-tunnel move, he made his way through 164 feet of pipe that empties to the waters of Hawke’s Bay, on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island.

Rob Yarrell, national manager of the aquarium says that octopuses are famous escape artists. “But Inky really tested the waters here. I don’t think he was unhappy with us, or lonely, as octopus are solitary creatures. But he is such a curious boy,” says Yarrell. “He would want to know what’s happening on the outside. That’s just his personality.”

Videos abound of the wild ways in which octopuses can escape – a bonus of being a creature born without bones. While we may think of the many-legged animals as gelatinous floating blobs, they’ve been filmed walking over rocks and slipping through tiny slots – and their cerebral capacity combined with their agility makes for a curiously cunning critter. At the Island Bay marine education center in Wellington, reports The Guardian, an octopus was found to be in the habit of visiting another tank overnight to steal crabs, then returning to its own. All in a night’s work.

Yarrell says that Inky was an “unusually intelligent” octopus. “He was very friendly, very inquisitive, and a popular attraction here. We have another octopus, Blotchy, but he is smaller than Inky, and Inky had the personality.”

Inky came to the aquarium via a fisherman who caught him in a crayfish pot, and while the center is not actively looking for a replacement – I mean really, how can you replace an octopus like Inky? – they say that if a fisherman delivered another they might take it in.

“You never know,” says Yarrell. “There’s always a chance Inky could come home to us.”

In the video below Yarrell talks about the great escape. “He didn’t even leave a message, he just off and went.”

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