Lobster Game Maker Fights PETA

Published on
July 17, 2008

The U.S. manufacturer of The Lobster Zone claw game featured in about 300 restaurants nationwide is fighting back after PETA said the game is cruel to animals.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) is urging restaurants to get rid of the machines, which are similar to plush toy games in which the user can use a claw to pick up the toy. About 300 restaurants across the country, including JD's Bait Shop Sports Grill in Greenwood Village, Colo., and High Tide Harry's in Orlando, Fla., feature the lobster tank claw game in which patrons can pay $2 to catch a live lobster with a plastic claw, then the restaurant will cook it for them.

"PETA receives many calls from people who have come across a tawdry contraption found in some restaurants and bars in which live lobsters are plucked out of the water with a joystick-controlled crane," according to a statement on PETA's "Lobster Liberation" Web site, www.lobsterlib.com. PETA urges consumers to notify the local Health Department if the lobster tank appears too crowded and is urging them to write protest letters to local newspapers. (PETA and two of the restaurants targeted did not return calls from Seafood Source).

However, some of the 300 restaurants that carry the games and the manufacturer, The Lobster Zone, are not budging. Lobster Zone draws in new customers and does not hurt the animals, according to the Apopka, Fla., manufacturer.

"They [PETA] say the claw punctures the shell, but it doesn't; it is plastic. Also, they said they have a scientific report on boiling lobsters, that you can actually hear them screaming, which is not true," says Nick Pappas, VP of The Lobster Zone.

One restaurant fighting back has said it will not get rid of the machines. In early July, PETA issued a press release asking JD's Bait Shop Sports Grill to remove its Lobster Zone unit. "They started hounding the owner to remove the machine, and he is not going to, because they are telling him how to run his restaurant," says Pappas.

While Pappas wishes publicity produced by PETA would "die out," The Lobster Zone has received several calls from restaurants who would like to buy the machines. At $2 a pop to play, some restaurants are making $1,500 in sales a week and are drawing in new customers, says Pappas.

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