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Demonstrators protest cruel lobster claw game in Royal Palm Beach


Cruel and controversial lobster "game" - photo courtesy of Cynthia Enciso (

A group of animal rights activists, led by members of the Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF), staged a peaceful demonstration in Royal Palm Beach, FL to protest a cruel contraption that makes a "game" out of catching live lobsters.

ARFF received several phone calls in the past month from people who noticed a coin-operated machine containing live lobsters at the Royal Palm Ale House.  The object of the game is to maneuver a mechanical claw to "catch" a lobster from the tank.  The restaurant will boil the lobster alive and serve it to the "winner" for dinner.

ARFF's website states, "Lobsters suffer tremendously when they are relegated to tiny tanks and subjected to loud noises, prodding and pulling by a mechanical claw, and prolonged starvation.  Supported by scientific evidence that confirms that lobsters feel pain—just as all other animals with sophisticated nervous systems do—ARFF has requested that the Royal Palm Ale House remove this atrocity from its otherwise reputable business immediately."

The dozen or so demonstrators, including myself, met outside the restaurant early Friday evening, May 22, and were heckled by beer drinking, bib-wearing patrons who made lobster jokes and otherwise taunted the activists.  The Palm Beach Post reports, "Two men waved the live critters over their heads, prompting the foundation's managing director to file animal cruelty charges against Norman Little of Royal Palm Beach."  Mr. Little denied the allegation, stating,"The whole thing is ridiculous.  It was a lobster we caught. I was holding it up for people to see."  One demonstrator commented, "If he were shaking a puppy or kitten like that, people would be outraged, especially if he was going to have it killed and cooked for him to eat."

Melissa Gates, ARFF's Managing Director, reports that her initial effort to file an animal cruelty complaint against Mr. Little was met with resistance by a Palm Beach County Sheriff's officer who argued that the lobster was the man's "property."  A second call to the Sheriff's Office resulted in the officer being relieved of duty and a complaint being filed against Mr. Little.  In the interim, Mr. Little re-entered the restaurant, then returned to the demonstration area eating the same lobster he had spent 20 minutes shaking violently in the air.

Some demonstrators traveled from Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton to attend the protest.  The activists carried signs saying "Lobsters Are Not Toys" and "Cruelty Is Not Entertainment."

Photos of the demonstration can be viewed here.

In addition to the demonstration, ARFF has coordinated a letter-writing campaign in an effort to convince the owners of the restaurant, John & Cheryl Baker, to remove the game from their place of business, reminding them that "games are supposed to be about skill, fun, and prizes… not suffering."  If you would like to send your own letter in support of this cause, please address comments to John & Cheryl Baker, 1136 Royal Palm Beach Blvd., Royal Palm Beach 33411.  The Royal Palm Ale House can be reached by phone at 561-753-3779.


  • VeganVixen 5 years ago

    What a sick "game" - making fun of someone's death!
    Thanks for speaking up for the lobsters!

  • TrystonL 5 years ago

    I think we can agree you'd rather be waved around in the air rather than be dropped in a tank of boiling water. It is among the most horrible of human practices.

  • Dave 5 years ago

    Are you serious? People actually protested this? Lobsters are delicious and now I can have fun catching them as well!! thanks for showing me where I can go for this kind of fun!!

  • Keith 5 years ago

    Tryston - sadly, after the waving came the boiling water.

    Dave - I'm surprised it took this long for trolls like you to come out from under metaphorical bridges long enough to make sarcastic, insensitive comments like yours.

    VeganVixen - thank you for your support!

  • Dave 5 years ago

    Keith you are correct in that my post was one of sarcasm. Why on Earth you feel the need to practice exclusionary tactics on " bridge folk" is a bit baffling however...

    You see Keith I too use to be an animal rights activist. I have fought against true animal cruelty and helped push for legislation that would prevent big business from poluting our fragile ecosystem. I have spent countless hours volunteering to clean water ways from trash.I majored in ecological impact to try and affect possit

  • Dave 5 years ago

    ive changes to our planet and environment.You sought to save animals that were destined to be eaten whether or not you agreed. All that has been done by this protest and its shananigans is to vilify members of society and to undermine what was once a worthwhile purpose.

  • Keith 5 years ago

    Dave, are you aware that sarcasm is from a Greek word meaning "to tear flesh"? I guess I'm just fighting the same fight here, only on a different front.

    I commend you for the advocacy you say you've been engaged in (although I wonder why it's all in the past tense), however I don't see why you need to denigrate what these activists were trying to accomplish. Were your efforts somehow more noble? Was the "true animal cruelty" you fought different from the animal cruelty we fought against in

  • Keith 5 years ago

    (continued from below) this case? Cruelty is cruelty, no matter the scope. Every life matters, no?

    Perhaps your comments would seem less abrasive and more compelling if you used phrases like "in my opinion"...

  • Cynthia Enciso 5 years ago

    Excellent article Keith! I commend you. Thank you for using my picture! And thank you for your activism in animal rights. Best of luck to you!

  • Dave 5 years ago

    Keith,You are a well spoken individual that seems to be intelligent as well.Why someone with those characteristics would jump on the proverbial bandwagon to support such a menaingless cause is what confuses me."Every life matters" is a bit too generalized for my tastes because it lends one to believe there is an anti animal cunsumption agenda and not one of animal rights

  • Dave 5 years ago

    Pursuing something more worthwhile (and yes,I do feel activism to hault polution and poor animal husbandry practices is more worthwhile."Nobility" has little to do with it)would be a larger asset to animal life than this. My efforts to aid in environmental relief are on going though I refuse to call myself a rights activist for fear that it will undermine my efforts as I may be thrown into the same category as this incident.

  • Keith 5 years ago

    Dave, I appreciate the compliment, backhanded though it is. I choose my battles and fight where I feel I can make a difference, and it sounds like you're doing the same. I'm glad there are people such as yourself out there doing the sort of work that you've described. You do your part, I do mine, and everybody wins. There are many, many worthwhile battles to be fought and I am involved in several of them. Today, here, I choose to continue my efforts to be a voice for the voiceless. Oh, and

  • Keith 5 years ago

    (continued from below) Oh, and if one life is saved from unnecessary cruelty and death, then the cause is indeed meaningful. If it were your life in question, I'm sure you'd agree.

  • Dave 5 years ago

    Keith, please understand that the only thing accomplished by the activism in this instance was to have charges pressed against an elderly man an to bring more business to the Ale House.Hardly a "win".I guess I see this the same as others see the pro life stance..As a means to force opinion into soemthing that is a legal mandate.Out of curiosity are you for animal rights or for stopping animal consumption all together?

  • Keith 5 years ago

    Dave, these are only you opinions and are not necessarily accurate or reflective of reality.

    I respectfully disagree with your assessment as to what was accomplished here. While no animals lives may have been saved (and we don't know that to be the case; we only know of one lobster who was killed), we succeeded in raising public awareness and starting a dialogue.

  • Keith 5 years ago

    Sadly, change and success in animal rights is measured in small increments and at a glacial pace.

    To satisfy your curiosity, Dave, I live a vegan lifestyle, which means that I do not consume or use animal products wherever avoidable. I'm certain you've asked this question so that you can now fill me in on your opinions about that, too (stated, of course, as facts).

  • Dave 5 years ago

    Keith, What I have stated as causes of this protest are fact (an elderly man had charges pressed and business has increased at Ale House) though I am sure that there are other consequences as well.Some of which more than likely are possitive from another person perspective.

  • Dave 5 years ago

    (continued) I respect you for having convictions.I don't agree with them for my life but it is good that anyone in todays society has any at all.I wiill not attack your choices of what fits you and your morality.You did however miss my intent.I had presumed you to be vegan and have no issue with that.I wanted to know if it was your intent or feeling that others should have to live what fits you and your life...

  • Keith 5 years ago

    Dave, the man had charges pressed against him because he committed animal cruelty. I'm not sure he's "elderly", but he's certainly old enough to know better than to behave in such a fashion.

    Thank you for saying you respect my convictions and, no, I don't feel anyone has to live any way they're not comfortable living. For me, the underlying principle of veganism is "live and let live."

  • Heather 3 years ago

    Sounds delicious.

  • Jake 1 year ago

    I see no animal cruelty other than the act of boiling a lobster. Lobsters have tough shells and if dropped in a tank they will have a graceful fall through water. Not to mention if you have ever used them claws they have almost no grip strength. Also you state he was shaking it violently, he says he was holding it above his head, since I wasn't there I cannot comment, but if he was indeed shaking it then I agree it was cruelty. But to condemn the game over an unrelated circumstance is just plain dumb. If you really want to fight animal cruelty force them to euthanize the lobster before boiling, there is literally no pain observed by the lobster up to that point.

    My opinion on the subject.