The Milwaukee County Zoo is sad to share that Chalupa, our female giant Pacific octopus and a guest favorite, was humanely euthanized on January 25.
Last August, the animal care team at the Aquatic & Reptile Center noticed that Chalupa had laid eggs and gone into senescence — a normal part of the octopus life cycle that occurs before death. She became fairly inactive (which is typical during senescence), simply spending time in her usual preferred corner of the habitat. However, more recently, the team noted that Chalupa’s skin began to change color, she was no longer eating, and she didn’t have much control of her body. This was when the decision was made to humanely euthanize her.
Chalupa arrived at the Zoo in early 2022 and was estimated to be about 3 years old at the time of her death. Giant Pacific octopus are the largest and longest-living octopus, living 3 to 5 years and dying shortly after breeding season. Her unique name was voted on by the Zoo’s social media followers (from zookeeper “fast food” suggestions).
The animal care team will fondly remember her as being “very cat-like” — reserved and only engaging with people on her own terms. Chalupa was also particularly skilled at hiding in plain sight, expertly matching the color and texture of her habitat.
Chalupa shared space with sea stars and an anemone, which have since relocated to the Puget Sound habitat. The Octopus habitat will undergo renovations in preparation for a smaller species, like the California two-spot octopus, also called a bimac octopus.