More than 25 years ago, 84-year-old Wilson Menashi quit his job as a chemical engineer and began volunteering at the New England Aquarium in Boston, especially with the octopuses. According to the aquarium, since Menashi first started volunteering, he has spent approximately 7,800 hours or around four years of working full time with the cephalopod mollusks. In that time he has created a deep relationship with the sea creatures, something not all people can do. Yet, it appears that he has had a connection with them since day one. According to Menashi, “I’ve been able to interact with them from the beginning. I do not know why. I cannot explain it, but I can connect with them.” He regularly comes home with affection hickeys from his octopus friends all over his arms and neck, something he no longer has to explain to his wife.
His volunteer position at the aquarium is essentially to keep the incredibly intelligent octopuses busy both mentally and physically. He builds puzzle boxes for them to solve and wrestles with their tentacles to keep them in shape. He takes great pride in his work and the octopuses show appreciation for the toys he makes for them as well as the unique puzzles he gives them with food inside. Bill Murphy, a senior aquarist notes that “[His] eye for detail, patience and willingness to experiment makes Menashi a perfect octopus whisperer.” After decades working with the animals, he remains just as entranced as when he first started and claims that spending time with the animals has given his life a whole new purpose.
Image Credit: Steven Senne/AP