Isopods – the segmented, ancient-looking order of crustaceans to which pill bugs belong – are popular in Japan; and so it was with much fanfare that, in 2007, the country's Toba Aquarium welcomed a giant, foot-long isopod to its ranks. But one day in 2009, the isopod, for reasons unknown, decided to stage one of the longest hunger strikes in the history of animal captivity.
Robert Krulwich has the sad details surrounding "Giant isopod No. 1" (for so the creature was unceremoniously named) and his five-year protest today at NPR:
No. 1's caretaker, Takeya Moritaki, couldn't figure out what was wrong. He tried pushing the food closer. No. 1 didn't care. He tried different foods. No. 1 wasn't interested. It would either push the food away, or walk away. He tried sticking No. 1's face into the food. Nothing. He even tried changing the temperature to make No. 1 hungrier, or more comfortable. Still nothing.
Months went by. Then years. No.1 didn't eat anything for all of 2010, then for all of 2011, then for all of 2012. By this time, word got out that a big crab was on some kind of hunger strike at Toba Aquarium, and people began showing up for its feedings, or rather, not-feedings, to see if it would finally break fast.
Read the rest of No. 1's story (which ultimately concluded on Valentine's day of this year), over at NPR.