Just when you thought good sense had prevailed, the controversial Catcha Cray arcade style game with live crayfish is back - but modified! SAFE was delighted to announce in February that the arcade-style machine called Catcha Cray, that treated live animals like stuffed toys, had been banned following an intense SAFE campaign.

catcha cray protest

"The machines used a metal claw to subject the crayfish to undue stress, torment and injury, with the catching and handling process sometimes resulting in limbs being torn off or damaged. Most New Zealander's were disgusted that such a thing was allowed," says SAFE campaign officer Mandy Carter.

A SAFE demonstration, which attracted huge media exposure and an intervention by the SPCA deeming the machines illegal under the Animal Welfare Act, resulted in bars with Catcha Cray machines being ordered to discontinue using them.

Game modified and sadly back!
However, the game has since been modified by dividing the tank in half with perspex. One side contains live crayfish, while the other side contains plastic ones. Punters will attempt to ‘catch' from the side with plastic crayfish, and be rewarded with a live crayfish if they succeed.

"We are disappointed to learn that Catcha Cray machines will be appearing in bars again. Although the crayfish will no longer be cruelly tormented with a metal claw, SAFE still has concerns, as the cramped conditions and noisy bars are not appropriate places for animals. A caught crayfish amongst a crowd of drunken revellers is also of serious concern as they are at great risk of abuse. There is also the issue of how the crays are being killed once they have been taken home," says Mandy.

SAFE would advise any bars approached to house a Catcha Cray machine, to consider carefully whether they wish to be associated with these machines. SAFE also encourages people who see one at a bar to not to use them, and to register a complaint with bar staff.


Following news about Catcha Cray being banned, SAFE is pleased to announce that all the machines throughout New Zealand have now been removed. We think!

Bars in Auckland were ordered to stop using the machines after the Auckland SPCA found they were in breach of the law. After contact with the RNZSPCA, all the bars outside Auckland have removed their machines too.

SAFE campaign officer Mandy Carter says the group is delighted with the result.

"Thanks to everyone who has supported the campaign and put pressure on the bars to remove these cruel machines. SAFE also applauds the SPCA and the RNZSPCA for their efforts to have these removed on legal grounds," says Mandy.

There is a possibility that there are still a few Catcha Cray machines still operating. If you happen to spot one please email Mandy at with details.



SAFE is delighted to announce the arcade style machine that treated animals like toys has been banned.

The Auckland SPCA issued The Albion with notice that these machines were deemed illegal, and disabled their machine. This followed huge media exposure that included television interviews on Breakfast, the TV One and TV3 news, and a heated debate on TVNZ's Close Up between SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek and Patrick Chandulal, the owner and mastermind behind Catcha Cray. RadioLive, Newstalk ZB and Radio NZ resonated public feeling via talkback radio, and stories appeared in newspapers nationally.

catcha cray

The media attention was sparked by SAFE's call to protest outside The Albion Hotel in Auckland on Monday, following an extensive pressure campaign to ban Catcha Cray, which began last September. SAFE campaign officer Mandy Carter said these machines caused tremendous stress on the crays.

"These machines may ‘catch' them 30 times before they're finally dragged out of the machine - that's causing them considerable stress. Thankfully, many bars have removed their Catcha Cray machines after they have become aware that both SAFE and the SPCA are opposed to these machines on welfare grounds," says Mandy.

SAFE is thrilled it has be able to successfully achieve its goal of banning these cruel machines.

"We always knew these machines were wrong and in breach of the law. We have been working with the Auckland SPCA and RNZSPCA for some time and are delighted we have been able to see the demise of these machines," says Mandy.

"Public support has been overwhelming and we have been extremely heartened by the comments of support and encouragement being sent by many New Zealanders."


Bars unwilling to remove the controversial Catcha Cray arcade game, that treats live crayfish as if they were stuffed toys, have been told to expect their patrons to swap their pints for protest placards.

SAFE says it has received many complaints from patrons outraged that their local drinking establishment has a Catcha Cray machine. SAFE and the RNZSPCA have been working together to have Catcha Cray machines banned from bars on animal welfare grounds.

"SAFE expects the RNZSPCA to announce this week whether it can use the Animal Welfare Act 1990 to legally challenge the bars that continue to operate Catcha Cray machines. SAFE is of the opinion that the machines are in breach of the Act. If the RNZSPCA concurs, it will mean that anyone operating these machines will be open to prosecution for animal cruelty," says SAFE campaign director Hans Kriek.


SAFE and customer pressure have successfully managed to convince another two bars to remove their Catcha Cray machines. Coyotes in Tauranga and the Otorohanga Hotel in Otorohanga now brings the total number of bars to remove these cruel machines to seven. SAFE continues to put pressure on the remaining bars (listed on right).


All but two bars in Auckland have removed their Catcha Cray machines, however they are now spreading outside of Auckland.

SAFE has discovered five new bars have installed the Catcha Cray machines in Rotorua, Tauranga and Matamata. SAFE has spoken to the bars to express our concerns.

"We have contacted the bars to express our views but we still need people to register their complaints by contacting the bars directly," says SAFE campaign assistant Mandy Carter.

"It's great that these machines have proved so unpopular in Auckland which just goes to prove the general feeling about them and the fact that companies will listen if their customers complain."


Complaints from bar patrons in support of SAFE's campaign to have the Catcha Cray arcade games banned have resulted in yet another Auckland bar removing the machine, bringing the total to five!

SAFE is delighted that the Finnegan Irish Bar has removed their machine. SAFE has also heard the remaining machines are no longer proving popular since the novelty has worn off with local patrons. SAFE understand that the Catcha Cray owner is now investigating alternative outlets, believed to be Asian restaurants.

Machine torments crayfish
SAFE has also discovered that the Catcha Cray machine takes an average of 30 attempts to successfully catch a live crayfish using the metal claw, highlighting the level of stress and harassment the crayfish endure before being caught and killed.

SAFE and the SPCA now believe these machines are in breach of the Animal Welfare Act 1999, which aims to ensure ‘physical handling [is done] in a manner which minimises the likelihood of unreasonable or unnecessary pain or distress'. SAFE continues to work closely with the SPCA to put an end to these cruel machines.


SAFE is delighted to report the Globe Bar and the Thoroughbred Sports Bar have confirmed they will no longer have the Catcha Cray machines in their bars as of this week. This now only leaves four of the eight bars known to have Catcha Cray machines operating since SAFE launched its campaign in less than a month.


Campbell LiveWithin a week of launching a campaign against the arcade- style Catcha Cray games which are appearing in Auckland bars, a second bar has removed their cruel machine. Radio NZ, Campbell Live and TV One have since featured stories and SAFE continues to put pressure on the remaining bars.

The Naval & Family became the second Auckland bar to remove their machine following complaints by patrons.

"These machines subject live crayfish to undue stress, torment and injury. The catching and handling process can result in limbs being torn off or damaged. A caught crayfish amongst a crowd of drunken revellers is also of serious concern as they are at great risk of abuse," says SAFE campaign officer Mandy Carter.

SAFE is delighted the Naval & Family and Kingslander establishments have removed the games, and that the RNZSPCA has corrected their position after earlier media reports stated the Auckland SPCA was not opposed to the game.

"SAFE commends the Naval & Family and Kingslander for taking the concerns of their patrons seriously. It is great that the RNZSPCA has added their weight to this campaign given that the game's manufacturers were boasting they had SPCA approval," says Ms Carter.

SAFE continues to put pressure on the remaining pubs and bars to remove their Catcha Cray machines.


SAFE has been alerted to troubling new Catcha Cray machines appearing in Auckland bars and restaurants. The machine treats live crayfish as if they were merely soft toys commonly seen inside arcade grab machines.

Catcha Cray punters pay three dollars to manoeuvre a ‘metal claw' inside the glass tank to try to catch a crayfish intended to be cooked and eaten on the premises.

SAFE has serious concerns about these machines and has launched an investigation to see how widespread they are.

SAFE campaign assistant Mandy Carter says it is appalling.

"Like the soft toy machines, the catching process is primitive and obviously designed to fail, therefore adding to the stress and torment these animals will endure," says Mandy.

"Since research has demonstrated that crustaceans are stressed by repeated handling, these machines are designed to cause needless stress, which is unacceptable. Even more disturbing, people have reported witnessing the metal claws breaking the claws and legs of crays."

Many SAFE supporters have since voiced their objections, and SAFE director Anthony Terry was escorted off the premises of The Albion Hotel by the manager, after expressing concerns about the welfare of the crayfish.


Responding to widespread alarm over its Catcha Cray game, the management of K' Road's Naval & Family pub have decided to get rid of the "cruel" machine. Please congratulate them for listening to customers and deciding to remove it. Call 09 373 3409 or email

cray stand


The Kingslander in Kingsland recently removed their Catcha Cray after a high level of complaints. Please write to them to congratulate them for their compassionate decision. Email





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cute cray