A Singapore seafood restaurant under fire for letting customers pluck crabs with a metal claw has shut it down after a complaint was lodged with the authorities amid online accusations of cruelty.
House of Seafood’s chief executive apologized today for “any inconvenience and unhappiness” caused by the machine, usually found at carnivals and reserved for plushie toys, saying it had been taken offline and would be removed if officials requested it.
“After the concerns raised by the public members, our restaurant had temporary stop the claw machine, and will carefully review our system [sic],” CEO Francis Ng wrote online today.
He also thanked people for “all the feedback.”
“Once again, we are deeply sorry and apologize for any inconvenience and unhappiness caused. We, at House of Seafood, hope to serve each of you better and thank you for all the feedback,” he added.
The live crab claw machine was widely criticized after a promotional video was posted Tuesday to lifestyle site SHOUT.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals yesterday urged the public not to use the machine and said it had reported the restaurant to the NParks’ Animal & Veterinary Service currently investigating the case. Other animal welfare groups including the Animal Concerns Research and Education also called the restaurant out online for “cruelty.”
For S$5, people could to try and catch live Sri Lankan crabs from the machine located outside the House of Seafood restaurant in Punggol. Those hapless crustaceans pried free without being dropped, dropped and dropped were then cooked in either black pepper sauce, salted egg sauce, chili or with bee hoon noodles, according to the promotional. Each crab weighs 500 grams to 800 grams.
Ng told Coconuts Singapore yesterday that the S$5,000 machine was designed to prevent the crabs from experiencing any pain.
The opening on the bottom left of the claw machine, where customers claimed the little scramblers, was cushioned to support the animal’s fall, while the claws were wrapped in plastic covering to soften their grip.
Ng said using a machine to claw the animals out and on their way to the frying pan was about teaching people to “love them.”
“First of all, I’m sorry to all animal caregivers. We did not intend to use animals as play things … we clean the game machine every day and let them survive in a good environment,” he said. “Many children in restaurants like crabs but dare not touch it. I hope that in this way, more people would understand crabs better and love them.”
Ng also said there was an educational reason behind the machine – educating the public on how to identify male and female crabs.
Live crab claw machines can also be found at the restaurant’s two outlets in China. But there have been no complaints there, he said.
If NParks wishes the machine be removed, Ng said he would respect its decision.