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Live Giant Lobster Dismembered on Video at Toronto Restaurant, Animal Justice Calls for Cruelty Charges

Animal Justice May 19, 2017

TORONTO – National animal law organization Animal Justice filed a legal complaint with the Ontario SPCA after a disturbing video surfaced online, depicting the dismemberment of a live, giant lobster at Toronto restaurant lbs.

The gruesome video was first posted on the Facebook page for the website Eater.com in early May, 2017, as part of a promotional piece showcasing seafood restaurants. It shows the lobster being dismembered, piece by piece, by two individuals at lbs restaurant. The chefs restrain the lobster, forcefully ripping out his front right claw, front left claw, and then ripping his tail off of his abdomen. All the while, the lobster continues to move his legs and tail, indicating that he is still conscious, aware, and suffering throughout the brutal dismemberment. The individuals involved appear to be the owner and executive chef of lbs restaurant.

Lobsters and other crustaceans are protected by criminal animal cruelty laws and provincial legislation. Scientific research has confirmed that lobsters experience pain and can suffer. Dismembering a lobster results in prolonged death and suffering as nerve ganglia located throughout their bodies can continue to function and transmit pain signals during dismemberment.

“Dismembering a live lobster is blatant animal cruelty and lbs restaurant should be prosecuted for this horrific abuse,” said Camille Labchuk, a lawyer and executive director Animal Justice. “Lobsters feel pain, and our laws must protect them from the worst forms of suffering. No animal should die through dismemberment, and authorities must take swift action to ensure lbs does not dismember more lobsters.”

Toronto animal advocate Len Goldberg first discovered that the dismemberment took place at lbs restaurant and shared the video widely online. This prompted people to flood lbs’ online review pages with negative ratings. Lbs has since suspended its own Facebook page, and the video was deleted by Eater earlier this week.

The animal advocacy group Anonymous for the Voiceless will protest outside lbs restaurant, 100 Yonge Street, Toronto, on Saturday, May 20 from 7 – 9 pm. Media are welcome to attend.


Copies of the legal complaint are available upon request.

For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director

Len Goldberg
Anonymous for the Voiceless Spokesperson

Animal Justice

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Action Alert: Toronto Exotic Animal & Mobile Zoo Consultation

Animal Justice April 27, 2017

The City of Toronto just opened a public consultation to help decide how to regulate exotic animals and traveling zoos. It’s time to have your say! This is a rare opportunity for Toronto residents to help shut down the cruel exotic pet trade and stop travelling zoos from operating inside city limits.

Tragically, Ontario has the fewest legal protections for exotic animals of any province in the country. The only animals that cannot be owned in Ontario are orcas and pit bulls, leaving other animals vulnerable to suffering and exploitation by the billion-dollar exotic pet and the zoo industries. Ontario’s failure to protect exotic animals has forced cities like Toronto to pick up the slack, which is why this consultation is so important. A strong set of bylaws in Toronto could encourage other municipalities to do the same.

Right now, Toronto has a list of prohibited animals, but the list needs to be strengthened to protect more wild animals from becoming victims of the pet trade. Also, dozens of traveling zoos are currently operating in the city, trucking prohibited exotic animals all over the city to birthday parties, seniors homes, and other events.

Wondering how to participate in the consultation? There’s two easy ways: online or in person!

  1. 1. Fill out this online survey before noon on May 5 (see our recommendations below).

2. Attend one of two in-person public consultations. Meeting # 1 is on April 28, 10:30 am – 12:30 pm. Meeting #2 is on May 1, 6:30 – 8:30 pm. For more details, see this link.


Animal Justice recommends that instead of having a long list of prohibited animals, Toronto should create a shorter list of permitted animals (also known as a “positive list”). Positive lists have the advantages of simplicity and clarity, and generally do a better job of protecting vulnerable animals from exploitation by the pet trade. Ideally, we recommend that only domesticated animals whose welfare does not suffer in captivity be permitted in Toronto, and that animals on the list must not pose a risk to public safety. Wild animals belong in the wild, and must not be permitted to become part of the exotic pet trade, which is responsible for significant suffering and mortality regardless of whether animals are captive-bred or wild-caught.

Animal Justice also recommends that traveling zoos must not be permitted to operate within the city. Traveling zoos cause stress and suffering to animals, forcing timid and sensitive animals to submit to human touching and contact. Animal-borne diseases may be transmitted, animals may bite or otherwise react, and they risk escaping. Guests are often invited to interact with dangerous animals like snakes and venomous reptiles. The risks are real: In one recent incident, a tarantula with a Toronto-based traveling zoo shot microscopic barbs into the eye of a three-year old child, which could not be removed. Traveling zoos put both animals and the public at risk.

Further Resources

Zoocheck: A “Positive List” Approach to Exotic Pet Regulation

Mark Bekoff: The Exotic Pet Trade: Horrific Global Animal Abuse and an Assault on Sentience

PETA: Inside the Exotic Animal Trade

Canadian Press: Rise of mobile zoos raising concerns about health and safety

PETA: Traveling Zoos and Petting Zoos


Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur / NEAVS

Animal Justice

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Toronto Animal Services Investigates Lion Cub at Lavelle Nightclub

Animal Justice August 5, 2016

TORONTO – Toronto Animal Services is investigating after Instagram photos of a lion club at a Toronto nightclub surfaced. The photos were apparently taken yesterday at Lavelle, a downtown nightclub with a rooftop pool, and depict patrons posing for selfies with the baby lion.

Animal Justice filed a complaint with Toronto Animal Services over the images because Toronto bylaws prohibit possessing lions and other exotic animals.

“It’s illegal in Toronto to parade exotic animals around nightclubs for marketing purposes,” said lawyer Camille Labchuk, executive director of Animal Justice. “Baby animals aren’t toys. This lion cub should be with her mother, not used as a prop for selfies.”


For more information, contact:

Camille Labchuk
Executive Director

Animal Justice

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