Restaurant’s live crab claw machine leaves bad taste and SPCA shell-shocked

For $5 per try, customers who visit the House of Seafood at Punggol Point Road can use the claw machine to catch live Sri Lankan crabs. (PHOTO: Shout via SPCA/Facebook)

SINGAPORE —Crabs are not toys and the use of a “live crab claw machine” at a seafood restaurant in Punggol causes “unnecessary harm” to the animals, said the Singapore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

“Crabs are living creatures, not toys. The SPCA advises members of the public to not partake in such activities,” it said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (23 October), adding that it had reported to the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) to ask the agency “to shut this down”.

Since last Sunday from 5pm to 10pm daily, customers who visit the House of Seafood at Punggol Point Road can pay $5 to use the claw machine to catch live Sri Lankan crabs, which they can then have them cooked for free on the spot, or kept in the restaurant to eat on future visits.

“The game causes unnecessary harm to the animals and it also encourages people to see animals as nothing more than objects to play with and goes against our vision of a kinder society,” said the SPCA.

Its post has been shared over 1,600 times and garnered over 300 comments from angry netizens as of 7pm.

Facebook user Adelyn Tan wrote, “This is done in very bad taste by the restaurant and the publicity team, without any regard for the crabs, making a mockery of their lives and existence just because they are only seen as food on a dinner plate.”

User Lestatte Liew suggested for the restaurant to use plush toys to represent the live prizes, which can be redeemed later.

Netizen Samatha Lee noted, “It is also kind of unhygienic to create this claw machine as you may not know how long will the crabs survive in there.” Some have called for the business to be penalised and boycotted.

Acres, or Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (Singapore), also commented about the machine in a Facebook post on Wednesday night.

The animal welfare group said that it received feedback on the practice a few days ago and filed a cruelty case with AVS due to the “serious welfare concerns”. It added, “We fully support the call to end this cruelty and urge everyone not to participate in such activities where live animals are treated as objects.”

House of Seafood CEO Francis Ng has said that the $5,000 machine – touted by the business as the first of its kind in Singapore – was designed to prevent causing the crabs “any pain” and to educate the public on how to identify male and female crabs.

He added that he would respect the authorities’ decision to remove it, if necessary.

Yahoo News Singapore has reached out to the AVS for comment.

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