Ursula the problem-solving octopus has died of old age. Staff at Living Coasts, Torquay’s coastal zoo and aquarium, have announced that she was put to sleep by vets because of health issues and age.

The common octopus with an uncommon talent for puzzles captured the hearts of people all over the world in the summer when her abilities hit the headlines.

Living Coasts Operations Manager Clare Rugg explained: “She was very active and inquisitive. She could open screw lids, manipulate building blocks, unfasten things like catches and flip lids. She took only 10 seconds to open a waterproof casing for a camera – it took a human longer to work it out!”

With eight gripping arms, three hearts, copper-rich blue blood, camera-like eyes, camouflage skin and striking intelligence, the octopus is like no other creature on Earth. In fact, some experts have described them as aliens.

Clare: “It’s great that people connected with a creature that is so far from us humans and could appreciate her intelligence. We invited people to devise puzzles and games for her and we had ideas from across the country and around the world!”

Research has shown that the common octopus can distinguish the brightness, size, shape, and orientation of objects. This is the only invertebrate protected by laws in the UK governing animals used for experimental or other scientific purposes.

Clare again: “The common octopus has a natural life span of just a few years, so her death was not unexpected, but we are all sad at her passing – she was a very special old girl.”

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