A female Giant Pacific octopus named Pandora, and recognized as a Smithsonian National Zoo favorite, has recently died.
The Giant Pacific octopus species is the world’s biggest, reaching weights of 30 pounds and arm spans of 15 feet. A female Giant Pacific octopus named Pandora, and recognized as a Smithsonian's National Zoo favorite, has recently died.
As the longest living octopus in the zoo’s invertebrate exhibit, Pandora made it to the age of 5 before dying. About half the maximum size, she weighed 15.4 pounds and her arm span was 7.8 feet.
A day prior to her death, Zoo staff noticed she wasn’t moving much and lost muscle tone – both old age indicators for her species. Most octopus deaths occur after breeding. Almost 1 year ago, Pandora had discharged unfertilized eggs, which are the size of rice grains.
According to zoo biologist Tamsen DeWitt, everyone working at and visiting the zoo loved Pandora. She added that Pandora “was a terrific ambassador for her species. She was curious, charismatic and taught us so much about octopus behavior.”
After her arrival in November 2011, 300 Washington-area kids voted to name her Pandora.
A pathology report will confirm the cause of death, but it’s expected to be old age since the average life span for her species is 3 to 5 years.