Transport for London (TfL) was quick to alert commuters to the potential hazard, tweeting a picture of the cephalopodan hold-up and warning Londoners to "approach with care".
A lorry carrying an octopus has broken down at Oxford Circus. Approach with care. pic.twitter.com/GpQQEEoZi8— TfL Traffic News (@TfLTrafficNews) June 3, 2014
Giant beached octopus brings chaos to Oxford Circus. Sort of. pic.twitter.com/pADZgkhTfo— Dominic Casciani (@BBCDomC) June 3, 2014
The origin of the eight-armed obstruction remained a mystery until a few hours later, when Betfair issued an apology via Twitter claiming the flatbed that was transporting the octopus had broken down.
We'd like to apologise for any inconvenience that has been caused by the breakdown this morning at Oxford Circus. While transporting a prop which was used in a recent advertising campaign, unfortunately our truck broke down on its way to a holding location— Betfair (@Betfair) June 3, 2014
However, other Twitter users, including the truck hire company (Roman Self Drive) were quick to question Betfair's version of events:
@au_tom_otive I believe the media thinks it has broken down, personally I think the Octopus got car sick— Roman Self Drive (@RomanSelfDrive) June 3, 2014
Betfair hasn't revealed what the purpose of the octopus was, although a common theory is that it is connected to 'Paul', the supposedly psychic octopus that predicted the outcome of eight matches at the 2010 World Cup.
Betfair corporate communications manager James Midmer said: "I understand it’s our octopus and that we have apologised for the delays caused on Twitter...it is our Brand team that was transporting it from a film shoot."
This story's headline was amended on 4 June to include "(or did it?)"