They'd Like to Be Under the Sea
An Animal Rights Article from


Doris Lin on
July 2009

An octopus at the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium managed to open a water control valve in her tank recently, flooding the building with over 200 gallons of saltwater. Luckily, no humans or aquarium creatures were harmed.

A wild Octopus

I don't know if octopi have gardens, but I'm sure they'd rather be under the sea than in an aquarium. An aquarium spokesperson describes them as "very smart." At the New England Aquarium, an octopus escaped his tank regularly and ate fish out of a neighboring tank for several weeks before he was caught. Aside from the basic animal rights arguments against depriving animals of their freedom for our own amusement or "education," there are also arguments against keeping a highly intelligent animal in captivity. There are also risks of the animals harming humans or non-human animals at a zoo or aquarium. In this case, the flooded aquarium made for a humorous blurb in a few news outlets, but it could have been a tragedy if the octopus had injured herself, other animals or aquarium staff or visitors.

What's the difference between an octopus eating fish in the wild and an octopus eating fish out of a neighboring tank? The wild octopus is behaving naturally and his victims are probably the young, the old, the weak, and the sick. The octopus in the aquarium has not only lost his own freedom, but then kills fish who are trapped in another tank and have no opportunity to escape. He will also be fed a diet of fish who were either purpose-bred and doomed from the beginning, or captured in the wild, contributing to over-fishing.

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