The Auckland SPCA has warned its inspectors will take a
police escort to close down an arcade game involving live
crayfish if it does not get co-operation from pub managers.
The SPCA today said it would close down several games in pubs
in Auckland where patrons paid to try to catch live crayfish
in a tank using a metal claw.
The animal welfare organisation would visit the three pubs it
knew of in Auckland running the game and would make the games
inoperable. Other outlets around the country would face
Soon after the SPCA announced what it was doing, one of the
pubs, The Albion in inner city Auckland, said it would not
close down the game and had not been visited by the SPCA.
Hotel manager Andrew Jackson said the crayfish were not being
abused and the machines would not be shut down.
He said it was the same as picking one out of a tank at a sea
food market where there were "200 crammed in together in a
SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge disagreed, saying the
organisation wanted to stop cruelty to the crayfish and had
yet to decide if any operators would be charged.
He said the games, which used a mechanical, claw-like device
to capture live crayfish from a water-tank, had been the
subject of intense investigation by the society, involving
expert species specialists and legal advice.
"Our expert advice is that the crayfish subjected to this
arcade game are likely to suffer unreasonable or unnecessary
pain or distress which is unacceptable in our view", he said.
"In view of this, after careful consideration, we have taken
steps to prevent the further infliction of trauma on these
Under the Animal Welfare Act (1999) inspectors "may take all
such steps as are necessary or desirable to prevent or
mitigate the suffering of the animal", Mr Kerridge said.
He said they would do that by "rendering the mechanical parts
of the machine unable to be used".
He said if they did not get co-operation from the pub
managers, they may look at the option of taking the police
with them to make the machines unusable.
He said the action might also prompt court action against the
SPCA but he was satisfied it had reasonable grounds,
including legal advice, to take the action.
"We find it necessary to send a clear message that the SPCA
will simply not tolerate cruelty to animals in any form or
for any reason," he said.
He said games outside the Auckland region would also be
The national animal advocacy organisation Safe said seven
bars had removed the machines after animal welfare complaints
from patrons but "some bars have taken a more defiant