Smuggling for fun and profit


Escape artist: Inky the octopus swimming in a tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier, New Zealand. Inky the octopus escaped the Aquarium for the Pacific Ocean, according to Fairfax New Zealand. – AP

INKY, an octopus shaped roughly the size of a rugby ball, made an audacious escape through a narrow pipe at New Zealand’s National Aquarium, reports said, with the “great escape artist” returning to the ocean.

The male octopus, given to the Napier aquarium two years ago after being rescued from a crayfish pot, made a dash for freedom by slipping through a small gap in his enclosure, sliding across a wet floor and squeezing through a 150mm-diameter pipe, Fairfax New Zealand reported on Tuesday.

“Octopuses are really intelligent animals, very inquisitive, and they also tend to explore whenever they get the chance,” aquarium manager Rob Yarrell said the following day.

The octopus was proof that God had a sense of humour – which other animal was so well-armed? The Japanese, who loved animals, appreciated them as well so much so that they regularly had them for dinner.

As sushi, you might say they were on a roll.

The reports did not state when Inky made his getaway, reportedly the first-ever at the aquarium.

Malaysian animal smugglers were appalled by Wellington’s lack of security. They would never have allowed this to pass for they took pride in the fact that Malaysia was ranked among the Top 10 wildlife smuggling hubs in the world.

And they were specialists too, specialising in monitor lizards, pangolins, birds, and the occasional large octopus which our entrepreneurial exporters shipped or air-freighted in equal proportions to the cooking pots of China and the pet shops of the West.

Kuala Lumpur swelled with pride upon hearing about its latest accomplishment.

It was not easy becoming the toast of the town but the country had consistently reproduced this feat, regularly producing people of such creativity that Malaysia was always throwing up world-class credit card fraudsters and DVD-clone artists of such technical excellence that it brought tears to the eyes of Bernie Madoff.

But now it was back to our roots, to Malaysia’s noble and Neanderthal origins of hunter-gathering.

DVD and credit card technology were all right but there was nothing like returning to the jungle, and surreptitiously exporting assorted species of endangered reptile for fun and profit.

“We love animals,” the smugglers explained to the authorities, “especially the delicious ones like reptiles.”

But they’d done well for themselves.

Like coal, they’d prospered under pressure and they were not only grateful for what they’d received, they were even more grateful for what they’d escaped.

People got hanged for smuggling drugs but they only received a small fine for smuggling animals.

That was fine by the animal smugglers because they were always busy trying to keep one step ahead of the authorities.

They said little but never kept their traps shut because they knew that those who beat their ploughshares into swords could just as easily be shot by those who didn’t.

And that was Malaysia for you. There were a million dangers out there, myriad accidents just waiting to happen.

There were Mat Rempits waiting to pounce, snatch thieves eager to snatch, and parang-wielding burglars anxious to slice.

And it ran across the board. You could lead a person to Parliament but you couldn’t make him think.

The political parties were full of charlatans who advised all and sundry to lead exemplary lives while praying that they would never get caught.

There were puritanical watchdogs obsessively haunted by the possibility that somewhere out there, someone might be having fun and they were determined to stop it because if they didn’t, Malaysia would surely go to the dogs.

And maybe it already had. What about those morons who actually believed that there were Nigerian princes out there courteous enough to send them e-mails saying they wanted them to invest their enormous inheritances in return for a small fee in US dollars of course.

Inky was probably better off returning to the sea.

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