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Wading for freedom! 20-pound lobster’s liberation delayed

for The Brooklyn Paper
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The 20-pound lobster of Dyker Heights will have to wait a few more days for his freedom ride.

In a scene right out of a madcap comedy from the 1930s, volunteers from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals refused on Tuesday to allow “Craig the Crustacean” to be transported by the United Parcel Service to New Hampshire because they don’t trust UPS to treat the mammoth mollusk humanely.

This fish tale started, as so many do, with a groundbreaking report last week on BrooklynPaper.com, which revealed (in words, pictures and some stunning video) the existence of Craig in his own tank at the Halu Japanese restaurant on 13th Avenue.

Owner Gina Ng had contacted The Paper to say that she wanted to hand over the brawny bottom-feeder to PETA because the organization promised to repatriate the lobster into the icy Atlantic.

At 20 pounds, some experts say Craig could be 120 years old — too old to be useful to hungry humans.

Ng invited reporters back on Tuesday for the handoff, but things did not go as planned.

First, PETA volunteer Ashley Lou Smith, of Clinton Hill, declined Ng’s gracious offer of sushi, opting for a plate of edamame.

“It’s a little ironic to be eating seafood right now,” said Smith, whose lapel sported a heart-shaped pin with the word “Fur” crossed out. She did take the sushi home with her — after being assured it was vegetarian.

After crating Craig in a box that read, ironically, “perishable,” Ng gave her shelled friend one last kiss (though, understandably, she did wipe the kiss from her lips).

The original goal was to ship Craig overnight via UPS, but PETA and Ng demanded that the UPS man guarantee that Craig would be handled gently for the entirety of the trip and enjoy a ride to New Hampshire with no other boxes placed on top of his.

When the deliveryman could not make such a guarantee, Smith and Ng balked.

“The UPS man wasn’t compassionate at all,” said Ng. “I just thought, there’s no way we can leave him with this guy. We can’t trust him. It’s horrible.”

Meanwhile, other PETA workers handed out press releases quoting a marine biologist who claims that lobsters have a “sophistica­ted nervous system” and feel “a great deal of pain” when cooked alive.

Craig was expected to be transferred on Friday, if Smith found a New York-area volunteer with a driver’s license and a car — and time to drive Craig to the Granite State.

Before he is repatriated, he will be tagged so that fisherman know to toss him back — though they don’t always do, Smith admitted.

After the UPS incident, Ng put Craig back in his tank, where he stretched one claw out in front of the other like a boxer ready for a fight. She consoled him with shrimp.

“It’s a little sad to say goodbye,” she said. “But I think he will be much happier in the ocean.”

One of her customers agreed, though not for the same reason.

“It’s very nice of them to put him back in the ocean,” said one customer. “Besides, I wouldn’t want to eat him because I never want to eat anything that old.”

Updated 6:21 pm, February 19, 2009
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Reasonable discourse

Pietro from Bay Ridge says:
A 120-year-old of any species deserves our respect, and the right to keep on living. Good for PETA!
Feb. 18, 2009, 3:50 pm
AG says:
I can't understand the contradiciton. Feeding craig a shrimp?
Feb. 19, 2009, 11:06 am
Michael from Bay Ridge says:
Is it common for Lobsters to live this long? What is a normal lifetime for a lobster?
Feb. 19, 2009, 11:22 am
James Rodgers from Dyker Heights says:
I am very proud of my neighbor and friend Mr Q and his family,I'ts a wounderfull and generous thing to do. thank you MR Q your friend jimmy
Feb. 20, 2009, 11:15 pm

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