Myleene Klass has been condemned by wildlife experts after she jokingly said she had released a giant exotic crab on Hampstead Heath, according to Mail Online. The radio presenter revealed last week how she found the crab – believed to be a coconut crab – in her suitcase on her return from the Pacific island of Mogmog. But a representative for the 37-year-old later explained that her comments, which she made during an interview, were meant as a joke.
The mother-of-two was on the island filming a new TV show, Singing In The Rainforest, and told journalists that the locals might have put the crab in her luggage ‘as a gift’. The TV star said: ‘I don’t know if somebody packed this or what but in my bag when I got home was a giant crab. They must be hardy these crabs, it made it all the way back.’ She said she phoned the London Aquarium for advice before eventually releasing it.
A representative for Ms Klass said that although she did find a crab in her suitcase, it died just hours later as she was waiting to hear from the aquarium. The story about its release was meant as a joke. Her comments prompted a furious response from wildlife experts, who warned that introducing such an exotic species could threaten native wildlife.
The coconut crab – the world’s largest – can weigh more than 4kg when it reaches adulthood. The species, also known as Robber Crabs, can live for up to 60 years and is a ‘land crab’, living in underground dens rather than water. It is also capable of climbing trees and grabbing coconuts.
Coconut crabs live in islands scattered across the Indian and Pacific Oceans, feeding on rats, fruits, nuts, seeds, and coconuts.. Rachel Jones, head of the aquarium at London Zoo, confirmed that the crab, from the description given my Ms Klass, was almost definitely a coconut crab and that it ‘feasted on rats’. She said: ‘It lives in trees and does run around and gets into all sorts of places. They have big jaws that can crack open coconut shells, and they also feast on rats and other crabs.
‘They can get pretty big, with a span of around 60 to 70 centimetres. They are scary looking things.’ She explained that ‘the rule of thumb’ is never to let non-native species go in the wild. She said: ‘The best thing that can happen is they die a horrible death. The worst thing is they will start killing native species.’ Dog walker Clive Willis, 42, who lives in Hampstead, said he had spoken to two people this week who claimed they had seen the giant crab, with one of them saying he’d seen it up a tree.
A spokesman for the City of London Corporation said: ‘Dumping of any animals on Hampstead Heath or any other public space can have damaging effects to the local ecology and is to be strongly discouraged.’