An Aquarium is Looking for Puzzles for its Clever Octopus
By Matt Soniak
Ursula is a 2-year-old common octopus (Octopus vulgaris) that resides at the Living Coasts aquarium in Torquay, England. Like other 2-year-olds, she’s a handful—and her keepers are having a hard time keeping her entertained. Ursula, you see, is very curious and active, and has a knack for puzzles. Her meals are regularly served to her tucked inside plastic pipe mazes or houses made of LEGO bricks, and she’s able to pluck the food out in just a few seconds.
Her usual enrichment toys—water guns, floating balls, food containers, a Mr. Potato Head—aren’t entertaining her like they used to, so the aquarium is asking for help. They’re seeking ideas for games or puzzles that will give Ursula a challenge and keep her occupied.
Living Coast’s Operations Manager Clare Rugg says that the ideal toy would be complicated and not have any metal parts, sharp/pointed edges or toxic materials that could harm Ursula. She gave some ideas to the local newspaper to get aspiring octo-puzzle inventors started, including complex plastic mazes, floating food containers and locked box systems.
Whoever comes up with the puzzle that challenges Ursula the most will get a chance to meet her and her keepers—though Rugg says that she thinks the octopus can handle anything that’s thrown at her. Ideas can be submitted to Living Coasts through their contact page.