Inky the Octopus and Chacha the Chimpanzee’s Quest for Freedom


An octopus named Inky broke out of his tank at the National Aquarium of New Zealand, in a brazen escape that has earned the admiration of his former masters. Rob Yarrell, national manager of the aquarium in Napier, said: “Octopuses are famous escape artists.” While investigators are still unsure how he slid out of his glass prison, Yarrell conjectured that Inky, “such a curious boy” would merely “want to know what’s happening on the outside” as that was “just his personality.” At about the same time, on another island to New Zealand’s northeast, a chimpanzee sought to break free, too. His dramatic dash for freedom was captured by cameras, in scenes reminiscent of a classic movie, as poignantly reminding us of the yearning for freedom of every living creature, entitled to it as much as anyone. Yet for all his anger and desperation, Chacha the chimpanzee could not make it farther than electricity pole in the Japanese city of Sendai, where he was returned to the zoo after his capture in a world that a very long time ago has turned alien for him. While it is true that in the last few years zoos have turned more “humane,” an oxymoron we hope our readers will forgive us for, we can only hope that conservation efforts may still one day restore freedom, and our undisturbed place, to all of us who share the world.

The Shutdown of Al Jazeera America, One More Failed Media Project

In TV, the bias of “winner takes all” is especially strong, and Al Jazeera America succumbed to low ratings, an identity crisis and an adverse market. The network announced the shutdown of its operation by April 2016. This is bad for the hundreds of journalists and staff who will lose their jobs, in yet another case of media project failure (in the interests of full disclosure, the author of this FI column has been a contributor for the AJAM website). As is bound to happen, too, the company had some instances of hit and miss, yet all in all the quality of its reporting did not seem to be the problem. A losing TV operation can be very costly, and not even the well-endowed government of Qatar, owner of the network, could sustain it, especially at a time of low oil prices. This brings up an issue worth pondering: the money is essentially coming from the same coffers that also finance, let’s say, other government expenses, such as those linked to foreign policy, including towards Syria. And yet, freedom of expression gains from a diversity of voices, and it’s always sad to see one more going silent.