Staff at an Auckland pub have received firebomb death threats
about an arcade game involving live crayfish.
Chris Yates, owner of the Tainui Tavern in Mt Wellington,
said emails threatening to burn the pub to the ground if the
game was not removed within seven days had been sent to his
bar manager Lawrence Putu on Monday.
"People had also been ringing the pub impersonating police
officers asking if we had enforced an SPCA notice not to
allow anyone to play the game.
"When I asked them for a phone number to call them back they
refused. They're not very nice people," Mr Yates said.
He said copies of the offensive emails have been sent to Glen
Extra security guards have been employed at night, but he
said that was an extra expense he had to incur.
Bar manager Mr Putu said the threats were "a bit overboard".
"The threats were nasty and I got a bit upset. I don't feel
scared working in the pub but we've still got to take it as a
serious threat," Mr Putu said.
The game, where patrons paid to try to catch live crayfish
using a metal claw, has been running in pubs since May last
Anthony Terry, national director for animal advocacy
organisation Safe, said it had been campaigning since
September to get the machines closed down, but had nothing to
do with the death threats.
"We applaud the SPCA coming out and making them inoperable,"
Mr Terry said. "But the death threats have not come from
Safe. That's not something that we condone or support, or
something that we would ever do.
"This actually started through a Facebook group which is not
related to Safe. Somebody admitted they had spammed a lot of
the bars, and this included an attached death threat. I did
send that link to the bar owner, and I explained to the bar
owner that it's got nothing to do with us," Mr Terry said.
The SPCA confirmed it had visited three pubs in Auckland
running the game - the Tainui Tavern, Happy Days in Manukau
and The Albion in the CBD - and made the machines inoperable
SPCA executive director Bob Kerridge said they had achieved
what they set out to do.
"As far as we're concerned, this action puts an end to it,
and we feel the best result will be to simply remove the
machines and give the whole idea away," Mr Kerridge said.
He said the games had been the subject of intense
investigation by the society, involving expert species
specialists and legal advice.
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 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.
The owner of Catcher Cray Ltd, who did not want to be named,
said the SPCA had initially approved the game.
"Given the evidence we have regarding the welfare of the
crayfish from leading crustacean experts, and the fact that
the SPCA had initially approved the game, we are extremely
disappointed that they have now changed their stance. We are
currently seeking legal advice," he said.
Charles Cadwallader, national chief inspector of the RNZSPCA,
said it was considering options on what to do about the six
other pubs around the North Island which have the crayfish
game on their premises.
Mr Cadwallader said the owner of Catcher Cray had not been
given official approval from the SPCA before installing the
"An SPCA inspector said that from the sketchy details he been
given he couldn't see a breach of the Act. But that was not a
green light from the SPCA," Mr Cadwallader said.