On May 8th, animal rights activists in Dublin, Ireland, liberated nine lobsters from a Chinese restaurant and released them into their natural habitat, giving them the chance to live and generating widespread media attention about the cruelty of boiling live animals.
In an interview with BBC, the founder of the National Animal Rights Association (NARA), Laura Broxson, said that the activists were motivated by compassion in what was a “life or death” situation for the lobsters: “They were free and had the chance to live, rather than facing certain death by being boiled alive.”
By intentionally revealing their faces while filming the liberation (“Open Rescue”), the participants could face legal consequences, a risk that some activists take in order to show the public that they are regular, relatable people, not the mask-wearing “terrorists” portrayed in the media. The real terrorists, they argue, are those who exploit and kill animals, not those who rescue them from egregious abuse and imminent death.
In January, activists with London Vegan Actions used a different approach to advocate for lobsters – staging a loud disruption on their behalf inside of a restaurant that serves them at multiple locations. Using a megaphone, they chanted, “If you want to get some peace, make the lobster torture cease.” After being aggressively ejected from the restaurant by staff, the activists continued to chant through the bullhorn at the restaurant’s entrance.
In the United States alone, more than 20 million lobsters are consumed each year. The unthinkable end of lobsters’ lives – being boiled or torn apart while still alive – often overshadows the horrific journey they take from the ocean to the kitchen. After being caught in traps and dragged out of their homes onto boats, lobsters are transferred into restaurant or grocery store tanks where they suffer from hunger, low oxygen level, stress, confinement and overcrowding. Scientists have proven that lobsters suffer.
Rina Deych, a New York City-based activist who has spoken out against home delivery of live lobsters said, “We are quick to demonize people in other cultures for boiling puppies and kittens alive, yet in our society, people think nothing of dropping a sentient creature of another species into a pot of boiling water.”
In 2008, an Australian apparel company called Just Jeans produced a provocative commercial in which customers in Chinese restaurant make a spur of the moment decision to empty the lobster tank and release the animals into the ocean.
The Dublin liberation was conducted by the National Animal Rights Association, Direct Action for Animals and The Alliance for Animal Rights.