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Live crab claw machine ‘under maintenance’ for the time being: House of Seafood owner

SINGAPORE – In an about-turn, the restaurant that had animal lovers up in arms over its live crab claw machine has issued an apology and stopped running the game on its premises for the time being.

House of Seafood has apologised for using live crabs in its claw machine and has decided to stop it for the time being.

House of Seafood has apologised for using live crabs in its claw machine and has decided to stop it for the time being.

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SINGAPORE — In an about-turn, the restaurant that had animal lovers up in arms over its live crab claw machine has issued an apology and stopped running the game on its premises for the time being.

The owner of House of Seafood at Punggol Point Road, Mr Francis Ng, said the restaurant has stopped loading live crabs into the machine from Thursday (Oct 24), and will engage with the authorities to find a solution.

The restaurant drew flak earlier this week for its unethical marketing promotion, which allowed customers to manoeuver a giant claw to pick up live crabs, which they can then purchase and have cooked on the spot, or returned to the sea.

The machine, Mr Ng claimed on Wednesday, was specially designed so it would minimise pain and harm to the crabs.

Since then, however, Mr Ng has decided to cease operations of the claw machine until a solution is worked out.

Speaking to TODAY from China, Mr Ng said: “We will be putting up a sign on the claw machine that says ‘under maintenance’.” 

He said that officials from the National Parks Board (NParks) visited the restaurant on Wednesday and Thursday but has not reached out to him directly. 

“I will meet with NParks when I return to Singapore on Friday and seek advice on how to move forward. They spoke to my employees at the restaurants but there was no direct instructions given yet,” he said. 

The Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), a unit under NParks, said in a statement that it was alerted to the machine and is investigating the case.

Ms Jessica Kwok, the group director of the AVS, said: "AVS takes all feedback received from the public on animal cruelty seriously and will look into the cases reported. All forms of evidence are critical to the process and photographic and/or video-graphic evidence provided by the public will help."

On Wednesday, the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) said in a Facebook post that it had lodged a report with the AVS, asking the agency to “shut this down”.

“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,” SPCA wrote in the post.

“Crabs are living creatures, not toys. SPCA advises members of the public to not partake in such activities.”

Within hours, the post was shared 1,400 times and drew hundreds of comments from netizens who expressed anger at the claw machine.

Following the furore, Mr Ng posted an apology on the restaurant’s Facebook on Thursday: “We are deeply sorry and apologise 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.” 

Instead of using live crabs, Mr Ng said he is now considering ready-to-eat crab boxes in the machine as an alternative. “This is so that we can allow people to play with the claw machine,” he said. 

He added: “I don’t want to further upset animal lovers anymore, or go against the authorities in this matter. I want to find the best way to settle this issue.”

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house of seafood crab claw machine crab NPark restaurant

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