National Zoo's Elderly Giant Octopus Dies

By Alana Wise
|  Wednesday, Feb 12, 2014  |  Updated 5:38 PM EDT
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National Zoo's Elderly Giant Octopus Dies

Abby Wood, Smithsonian’s National Zoo

Giant Pacific Octopus Pandora

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Pandora, the Smithsonian's National Zoo's female giant Pacific octopus, died Tuesday. 

The cephaloapod lived to be about 5 years old, making her the exhibit's longest-lived octopus. 

The average giant octopus lives about 3 to 5 years, so her cause of death is suspected to be old age. The day before she died, zoo curators noticed Pandora had become lethargic and had lost much of her muscle tone -- a common indication of old age in her species. 

A final pathology report is expected.

“She was a terrific ambassador for her species," Tamsen DeWitt, a biologist at the Invertebrate Exhibit, said. "She was curious, charismatic and taught us so much about octopus behavior. We’re happy she had such a long and healthy life.”

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