Good idea: the National Zoo is letting us name its Giant Pacific octopus.
Bad idea: the names. All four are terrible:

Olympus: This octopus arrived at the Zoo just before the 2010 Winter Olympics, and for many zoogoers the octopus gets a gold medal for being a compelling animal.
Ceph: Octopuses belong to the fascinating group of animals called cephalopods (class Cephalopoda), which means “head-foot.” The arms or feet (podos in Greek) of these animals are on the front of their head (“cephalo” comes from the Greek kephale, for head).
Octavius: “Octavius the Octopus” is more than just a pretty, alliterative name. The prefix “oct” means eight–that’s how many arms an octopus has, and “Octavius” was the Latin name traditionally given to the eighth child.
Vancouver: Home may be where the heart is–three hearts in the case of the octopus–and this octopus came the Zoo from an organization in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the end of January.

“The octopus gets a gold medal for being a compelling animal”?? Well, then the National Zoo gets a gold medal for cheese.

Who came up with this shortlist? I’d never have burdened the poor thing with “Cthulhu,” but I’d like some creative names to choose from! Their ballot won’t even let you write anything better in. (My guess is they’re afraid of the “Octopussy” contingent winning).

In response to the bitter malcontents like yours truly, Alan Peters, the National Zoo’s curator of invertebrates , observes, “Naming an octopus is always a tough decision, but each of these names is unique and has a specific meaning.” Is this guy Sarah Palin’s baby name advisor?


  1. #1 Kareth
    March 29, 2010

    They were probably actually afraid someone would figure out a way to name it after PZ Myers. Cephalopoda, online polling, it would have been inevitable.

  2. #2 Esmeralda M Rupp-Spangle
    March 29, 2010

    Senior Beaky
    Admiral Flexipants
    Hans Von Squishyhead the III

    How am I doing?

    They sure sound better to me than any of their ideas.

    I’m sure it was the threat of trolls that ruined write-ins… but for goodness sakes thaose are horrible options.

  3. #3 Katharine
    March 29, 2010

    Oh man, I live near DC. I’ve seen this octopus.

    How about Thalassa, Thetis, Metis, Tyche, or Amphitrite?

  4. #4 Katharine
    March 29, 2010

    Alternately, I support naming it Fleet Admiral Tentacles von Inkypants the Twenty-Seventh.

  5. #5 Otto
    March 29, 2010

    “Nicholas Bradford.”

  6. #6 HP
    March 29, 2010

    If it’s a boy, either Rusty or Rufus.

    If it’s a girl, either Scarlet or Ruby.

  7. #7 G.D.
    March 29, 2010

    I actually liked the fifth option, “Email address”, on the poll, so I pressed that one. Not sure my vote got counted, though (the poll site acted in a somewhat surprising manner when I pressed it).

  8. #8 Jessica Palmer
    March 29, 2010

    I like all the suggestions so far much better than the Zoo’s, even if some of them are a bit esoteric (Otto, you’re dating youself with that reference!) 🙂

  9. #9 Scicurious
    March 29, 2010

    I have to second the vote for “Admiral Flexipants”. That is an awesome name.

    How about “Inkybutt”
    “Solomon” (octopuses are some WISE creatures)

    But none of these beat “Admiral Flexipants”.

  10. #10 Rick V
    March 29, 2010

    Given the wide range of name suggestions from people staring at our little friend and some of the associations previously mentioned, seems you could do a lot worse than calling him Rorschach.

  11. #11 Jessica Palmer
    March 30, 2010

    Admiral Rorschach von Flexipants will probably have to abide by the nickname “Ceph” for the time being, but we will all know his/her true identity (though not his/her gender).

  12. #12 Stevo Darkly
    March 30, 2010

    My contributions:

    – Nemo
    – Jules
    – Bic
    – Haliburton
    – Dick Armey

  13. #13 Comrade PhysioProf
    April 3, 2010

    Those names do suck ass, but they’re nowhere near as bad as the names NASA considered for one of their space vehicles:

  14. #14 mdvlist
    April 4, 2010

    Ceph??? That makes the poor thing sound like it should be living in the the Playoctopus Mansion.

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