Octopuses – along with squid and cuttlefish – are cephalopods (SEFF-a-lo-pods), a class of animals within the mollusk phylum that (among other things) demonstrate the ability to reason.
In The Maritime Aquarium, our giant Pacific octopuses have enjoyed being given puzzles and toys, especially when there is food within. These “enrichments” keep the octopus busy by allowing it to utilize some of the skills that octopuses have developed for survival.
Sometimes the enrichments merely are unfamiliar objects that the octopus can feel and explore. Items with different textures, such as Legos® and infant toys that snap together, seem to be especially interesting. Sometimes the item will have a tasty prize inside – usually a piece of fish or a crab. These might be a big pretzel jar with a lid that must be unscrewed. Or a Mr. Potato Head® doll that must have its back end opened to give up its reward. The popular Kong® dog toys, which can hold treats, also are a hit. Sometimes, several days go by before the octopus is ready to let go of its latest toy.
During your Aquarium visits, be sure to visit the octopuses: the big octopus at the entrance to the new "Journey With Jellies" exhibit, and a smaller younger octopus near "Jiggle A Jelly" (opposite the entrance to "Meerkats"), and see if they are busy with an “enrichment.”