Restaurant Slammed for Using Live Crabs as Prizes for Claw Machine

A popular seafood restaurant in Singapore has been criticized online for its “cruel” claw machine which gave patrons the chance to catch a live crab for $5 a token.

The chief executive of House of Seafood has had to issue a public apology after a viral video showing people using a pink claw machine to catch live crabs drew a lot of criticism both from the general public and Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA). In a statement posted on Facebook, Francis Ng claimed that the live claw machine was actually meant to educate children about marine life, while critics of the controversial attraction said that it caused unnecessary harm to the crustaceans and encouraged people to see the live creatures as thing to be won in a game. As a result of the backlash the claw machine attracted, House of Seafood decided to temporarily close the machines at all of its locations.

“As the chief executive officer of House of Seafood, I take full responsibility for causing such unhappiness and I am sincerely sorry for such an oversight,” Francis Ng said. “Despite the measures  to minimize the discomfort of the crabs, we note the feedback from the public and will stop the catching of live animals in the machine. (This will happen) completely in all House of Seafood outlets worldwide.”

The restaurant had posted a video of clients using its controversial claw machine to catch live crabs in early October, and then lifestyle website Shout posted its own video on it as well, which drew a lot of attention on social media. Apparently, for a $5 token, clients could try their luck at the claw machine, only instead of a plush animal, they could catch a live Sri Lankan crab. If they were lucky enough to catch one of the 500 to 800 gram crustaceans the restaurant would cook it for them for free.

“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,” the SPCA commented on the viral video of the claw machine. “Crabs are living creatures, not toys.”

And while the claw machine did mean free publicity for House of Seafood, it was mostly bad publicity, as most of the comments on Facebook slammed the device as cruel and unnecessary. Some even called it sick.


“Come on! Can we be a little thoughtful for other living creatures. Imagine yourself being used in a claw machine. It is just sick!” on Facebook user wrote.

“Yes, we eat crabs and seafood but this machine is totally unnecessary and only for the added ‘fun’ for humans,” another person commented.


At first, the restaurant management tried sugar-coating the matter, saying that the claw had been modified as not to to harm the crabs, and that the machine was cleaned every day to provide a good environment for the marine creatures, but after the serious backlash from the public and a reaction from the Animal & Veterinary Service, House of Seafood decided to close down the claw machine. Recently, it’s been relaunched, only instead of live crabs, people can catch packaged ones.