Octopus Encounter at the Toledo Zoo

Posted on February 27, 2017

by Katie M

Did you know the Toledo Zoo offers ‘Behind the Scenes Tours’ to meet and greet some of their most popular animals? You can chill out with a sloth, feed red pandas, explore the elephant enclosure, shake hands with an octopus, and more! I’m pretty hard to buy for so my mom often gifts me with a unique experience for the holidays. My Christmas present this year was the opportunity to get up close and personal with Ursula, the new octopus at the zoo.

The aquarium tour went above and beyond my expectations. Not only was I able to interact with and feed the octopus, but I was able to experience what goes on behind the scenes, including a look from above into the Pacific Ocean dive tank. I also learned some bizarre and amazing things about octopuses. For example, did you know they have beaks (similar to that of a parrot) which they use to eat? Or how about when an octopus loses a tentacle, the detached tentacle continues to try to provide food to its beak for up to an hour afterwards? Another fun fact: octopuses have three hearts. Also, like us, every octopus has its own unique personality. Apparently Ursula can be a bit stubborn, but I’m just thankful she didn’t spray me with water, which can happen if she decides she doesn’t like someone. Most surprising though, was the super glue like strength of Ursula’s suckers – and she has a LOT of suckers!

The octopus is no ordinary animal, and getting to interact with one was an absolute treat. But don’t take my word for it; consider scheduling your own tour at the Toledo Zoo to meet the octopus or one of the other animals. And while you’re at it, check out these books, all available at TLCPL, to enhance your knowledge of the elusive octopus!

Books for Kids

Cowboy & Octopus by Jon Scieszka & Lane SmithCowboy & Octopus by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith

Cowboy and Octopus maintain their friendship despite different opinions about things like beans and knock-knock jokes.

My octopus arms / Keith BakerMy Octopus Arms by Keith Baker

Little Crab asks what an octopus can do with his eight arms and gets a surprising, rhyming, reply.

Octopus Alone by Divya SrinivasanOctopus Alone by Divya Srinivasan

Octopus leaves her cave in a lively reef because she is shy and the seahorses there find her fascinating, but when she finds a quieter, more peaceful spot she misses her home and friends.

Shark Kiss, Octopus Hug by Lynn Rowe ReedShark Kiss, Octopus Hug by Lynn Rowe Reed

Charlie the shark wants nothing more than a hug, and Olivia Octopus desperately wants a kiss.

Octopus Escapes Again by Laurie AngusOctopus Escapes Again by Laurie Angus

Whether searching for its next meal or avoiding becoming a meal, an octopus is an underwater master through color camouflage, or by spewing a cloud of obscuring ink, or by sacrificing a limb, or squeezing its boneless body into or through unlikely spaces. Includes resources and activities for teachers and parents

In Deep With the Octopus by Norma DixonIn Deep With the Octopus by Norma Dixon

A journey inside the octopus’s world, with facts, photos and other information about the octopus, types, anatomy, life and mating cycles, habitats, behavior and intelligence.

The Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk by Sy MontgomeryThe Octopus Scientists: Exploring the Mind of a Mollusk by Sy Montgomery

Looks at the work of renowned octopus scientist Jennifer Mather and a team of researchers on the island of Moorea, where they work to learn more about octopuses and their behavior.

Books for Adults

The Soul of an Octopus by Sy MontgomeryThe Soul of an Octopus by Sy Montgomery

In this astonishing book from the author of the bestselling memoir The Good Good Pig, Sy Montgomery explores the emotional and physical world of the octopus–a surprisingly complex, intelligent, and spirited creature–and the remarkable connections it makes with humans.

Octopus! The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea by Katherine Harmon CourageOctopus! The Most Mysterious Creature in the Sea by Katherine Harmon Courage

An all-encompassing survey of the mysterious cephalopod draws on the author’s transatlantic expeditions and interviews with leading experts to cover the scientific discoveries, mythologies and cultural meals associated with the octopus.

Other Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-SmithOther Minds: The Octopus, the Sea, and the Deep Origins of Consciousness by Peter Godfrey-Smith

A leading philosopher of science discusses the evolution of the cephalopod mind, shares photos of cephalopod encounters taken during his advanced scuba dives, and offers insights into how nature became self-aware.

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