By Paula Schleis
Beacon Journal staff writer
Cora, the octopus at the Akron Zoo that had picked her own name, has died.
The star of the zoo’s Journey to the Reef exhibit died Saturday, a couple of weeks after her keepers noticed she was becoming sluggish and eating less, zoo spokesman David Barnhardt said Wednesday.
The life span of a giant Pacific octopus is about 3 years. While Cora’s age was unknown, she already was an adult when she moved into the zoo in May 2012, he said.
A necropsy was performed with no significant findings, Barnhardt said, and the cause of death appears to be age related.
Cora was a popular attraction at the zoo, he said, in part because the glass of her exhibit was all that stood between her and her fans.
Visitors “could come and get nose to nose with her and it was quite an experience for kids of all ages,” he said. “She was pretty active, so there was a lot of movement in her exhibit and that attracted people.”
Cora, whose species comes from the northern Pacific Ocean, weighed about 20 pounds and was about 4 feet long from the top of her head to the end of her arms. Because of her camouflage skills, she could turn a bright shade of red.
During her short stay, she delighted her keepers and visitors with her personality. If someone would open the door to her exhibit, she would reach out an arm to take something from an extended hand.
She was also highly intelligent and capable of learning tricks, zoo officials said.
Last summer, the zoo held a naming contest for her, with 2,200 entries submitted from the United States and Canada. Officials narrowed down the choices to three, then lowered them into her exhibit using shrimp-filled balls inside a large plastic container.
It took her only five minutes to unscrew the lid from the container and pull out the ball with the name Cora on it.
Last year, the zoo broke its record for visitors, with the final tally of 332,960 surpassing the previous record set in 2008.
Officials credited the attendance record to endangered snow leopard cubs born in May and the octopus named Cora.