Posted April 2022
We’re excited to welcome a new female giant Pacific octopus to the Aquatic and Reptile Center (ARC)!
Chalupa, who was named by the Zoo’s social media followers (from zookeeper “fast food” suggestions), was imported from Vancouver British Columbia in Canada.
As she settles into her new habitat, keepers report Chalupa is getting more comfortable and even interacting with her caregivers, after some initial shyness. She’s the first octopus at the Milwaukee County Zoo who is an “inker,” meaning that if she’s startled or displeased, she’ll ink and swim away.
Keepers also comment that she’s one of the best octopus that the Zoo has had who can expertly hide in plain sight. She’ll match the color and texture of her habitat, and some visitors have thought she was the giant pink sea star who shares the habitat! Upon a closer look, it was Chalupa hiding directly in front of them!
Giant Pacific octopus are the largest and longest living octopus, living 3 to 5 years and dying shortly after breeding season. Environmental factors also play a role in its lifespan. They’re sensitive to environmental conditions and often suffer from the high pollution levels in the oceans.
Along with eight arms, an octopus also has three hearts and nine brains! Two of the three hearts pump blood to the gills, while the third circulates blood to the rest of the body. They use one central brain to control their nervous system and a small brain in each arm to control movement.
Known as highly intelligent, the giant Pacific octopus has been seen mimicking, or “floundering” other octopus. They have also learned to open jars and solve mazes. Here at the Zoo, Chalupa is offered a variety of enrichment puzzles ranging from food sealed in a jar to PVC puzzles.
Next time you visit, be sure to stop in the Aquatic and Reptile Center to meet Chalupa.
Insider tip: If she’s hiding, a favorite spot is in the upper right front corner of her habitat.