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Ethics of octopi in captivity?

Joined
Jul 21, 2011
Messages
8
Hello everyone, this is my very first post on the forum D:

I have absolutely no experience with aquariums but I am starting to read articles to prepare for the eventual ownership of an octopus or a cuttlefish :smile:

The thing is.... It is well known octopus are intelligent therefore isn't it unethical to keep them in captivity? aren't they always trying to escape their tanks? wouldn't it be like keeping a human in a home but they can never go out?

I REALLY want to own an octopus but these questions keep bothering me, what do you guys think?

Thanks for your input!
 
Wow - this is a great poll. Great first post!

:welcome:

As many folks on TONMO know, I have no experience with aquariums myself. I'm just a cephalopod fan :smile:.

I have been on both sides of this discussion, as have several members of staff (past and present). It's a tough issue, and in fact will be a topic of discussion at TONMOCON IV; neurobadger will moderate the Ethics Roundtable panel. Hope you can make it!

It is well known octopus are intelligent therefore isn't it unethical to keep them in captivity? aren't they always trying to escape their tanks?

That's such a tough question and unless you can rationalize it, it is the most compelling reason to be against it, IMO.

I would like a "not sure" option...

Tony
 
Welcome! great thread!

What are you considering intelligent? Parrots, dogs, cats, primates and pretty much every other farm animal are far more intelligent than an octopus, and all of those are kept in captivity. On the grand scale of things octos really aren't that smart. only when compared to the other animals they are related to do they seem intelligent. compared to their cousin the clam they are geniuses! were as compared to a dolphin they are not so smart.


Its not that they are trying to escape but rather that they are curious animals that like to explore and hunt. however with a few simple precautions it is pretty easy to keep them in your tank.
 
:welcome:

I think its more complicated than a yes/no answer.

What does 'ethical' mean to you?

I don't know if it is well known that octopus are intelligent, it seems they may be intelligent, of course depending on how you define intelligent. It seems to me that pigs and dogs are more intelligent than octopus yet people have no problem farming pigs problem and eating them or keeping dogs cooped up in apartments all day. Birds may arguably be more 'intelligent' than octopus, but people have no problem keeping them in cages and they try to escape too.

I like the idea of talking about ethics and it seems important to make sure we aren't selectively applying ethics to only 'pretty' animals.

:smile:
 
Hi! Ethics roundtable moderator here.

What we'll be talking about at TONMOCON is the captivity of cephalopods in three spheres: research, public aquaria, and private homes (through the composition of the panel, which comprises a member from academia - gjbarord - a member from public aquaria - Thales - and a member from private cephkeeping - corw314), and also important issues such as current laws regarding cephalopods kept in public spaces such as research and aquaria and issues surrounding animal welfare provision for them, their capacity for pain and suffering, and continuing the discussion about how ethical it is to keep them in the first place and what might be 'ethical keeping' and what might not be 'ethical keeping'.
 
Thales;180072 said:
I don't know if it is well known that octopus are intelligent, it seems they may be intelligent, of course depending on how you define intelligent. It seems to me that pigs and dogs are more intelligent than octopus yet people have no problem farming pigs problem and eating them or keeping dogs cooped up in apartments all day. Birds may arguably be more 'intelligent' than octopus, but people have no problem keeping them in cages and they try to escape too.

That doesn't mean that these animals are being kept ethically; it just means that they're being kept.

Pigs can be farmed while being treated well.
 
neurobadger;180074 said:
That doesn't mean that these animals are being kept ethically; it just means that they're being kept.

Absolutely. It also doesn't mean that they are being kept unethically.

Pigs can be farmed while being treated well.

That depends on how you define treated well. There are people that would argue that raising an animal just to kill it is 'unethical'.
 
neurobadger;180073 said:
Hi! Ethics roundtable moderator here.

What we'll be talking about at TONMOCON is the captivity of cephalopods in three spheres: research, public aquaria, and private homes (through the composition of the panel, which comprises a member from academia - gjbarord - a member from public aquaria - Thales - and a member from private cephkeeping - corw314), and also important issues such as current laws regarding cephalopods kept in public spaces such as research and aquaria and issues surrounding animal welfare provision for them, their capacity for pain and suffering, and continuing the discussion about how ethical it is to keep them in the first place and what might be 'ethical keeping' and what might not be 'ethical keeping'.

I'm from Montreal! I'm almost sure I'll go to the convention to learn more about it! :smile:
 
Thales;180072 said:
What does 'ethical' mean to you?

I think I was humanizing octopus too much, is not like they can literally "think": oh I'm living in captivity!
That requires a brain like ours.

So, after reading several threads I think "ethical" means making an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible (including live food), I also read many posts commenting about giving toys to them so they don't get bored which I found that it was a fabulous idea :smile:
 
No matter what so-called "intelligence" level an animal has, I think it is unethical to keep any animal in poor conditions from cockroach to octopus. Going to be a great panel at TONMOCON!!

Greg
 
So, after reading several threads I think "ethical" means making an environment as close to their natural habitat as possible (including live food), I also read many posts commenting about giving toys to them so they don't get bored which I found that it was a fabulous idea :smile:

:thumbsup: I like it. Sounds good, the only thing I would add is: not keeping species with questionable and or limited population, we don't want to collect any species into extinction, and make sure to keep the species in a tank that is the proper size.
 
I like the answers and don't have much to add except that you must expect a yes answer in a yes/no poll from anyone keeping an cephalop. Pretty much by definition, people don't do things they truly believe to be unethical and most active members are cephalopod keepers. Additionally, most keepers are here to find the best ways to successfully keep the animals in their care.
 
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