Mary Tyler Moore’s Lobster Tale Shows Her Love For All Creatures

The actress once sparred with Rush Limbaugh on animal rights.

Actress Mary Tyler Moore died Wednesday at the age of 80. While she was best known for her acting, she was also an outspoken animal rights advocate.

Author David Foster Wallace may have been the most famous critic against the practice of boiling lobsters for culinary consumption ― writing the essay “Consider the Lobster” in 2004 ― but Moore was also a celebrity advocate for the crustaceans.

In 1995, Moore wrote a an open letter criticizing an annual Maine Lobster Festival in Rockland. “Marine biologists report that lobsters are fascinating beings with complex social interactions, long childhoods and awkward adolescences,” she wrote, continuing, “Like humans, they flirt with one another and have even been seen walking ‘claw-in-claw!’ And like humans, lobsters feel pain.”

Just a year before, Moore had improbably gone to war to save one particular lobster named Spike.

At the time, the lobster had recently survived a lobster festival in a Malibu, California, restaurant’s tank, presumably because customers found Spike’s large size and therefore potential older-age of around 50 years (lobsters grow with age) to be fascinating.

Moore wanted to rescue the lobster from the restaurant’s tank and facilitate a return to the ocean. She offered to spend $1,000 just to buy the lobster.

“Although I do not pretend to know precisely how Spike feels living in a small tank away from his natural habitat,” Moore wrote in a letter to the restaurant, “I am certain that by whatever means a lobster can feel and understand its surroundings, this one would prefer to be back home in his native waters off the coast of Maine.” 

The restaurant declined. Then, to make a political statement, conservative blowhard Rush Limbaugh offered to buy the lobster for $2,000. 

“Spike’s welcome for dinner,” Limbaugh apparently said at the time in a press release, “but he shouldn’t plan on dessert.”

Unfortunately, it remains unclear what ended up happening to Spike. A report by People at the time concluded with a line about the lobster still hanging out in the restaurant’s tank, joking, “Spike’s not in any rush.”

In 1996, Moore appeared on Ellen Degeneres’ sitcom at the time, “Ellen,” in a plot line that involved the Degeneres character saving a lobster from a restaurant. Moore thanks her for the deed in the episode. The original lobster ends up dying, but the episode ends with Moore and Degeneres’ character grabbing more lobsters out of the original restaurant’s tank to try and save them instead.

HuffPost has reached out to a restaurant with the same name as the one that originally held Spike, but did not hear back by the time of publication. A November 1997 Newsday report claimed Spike was still alive at the time, being kept on display in the restaurant.

Although the specific fate of Spike is unknown, Moore continued to spend her life advocating for animal rights. The late actress notably protested factory farming and facilitated mass pet adoptions.

“I love them all!” Moore said of animals to a pet-centered outlet in 2002. “Even those animals for whom I have no particular feeling — like snakes or alligators or any of the creepy crawly fellows. I still care very much about them and would never tolerate inhumane treatment to them.”

So as we mourn a life lost, we can celebrate the many lives Moore fought to save over her own 80 years. 



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