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22-pound lobster freed after 20 years at New York seafood restaurant

(HEMSTEAD, N.Y.) — So long, Louie!

Peter’s Clam Bar in Hemstead, New York, said goodbye to Louie, a 22-pound lobster believed to be nearly 100 years old.

He’s been greeting and teasing customers at the restaurant for 20 years, but owner Butch Yamali told ABC News he decided it was time that Louie find a new home.

“He became a little aggressive,” Yamali, who’s owned the restaurant for four years and inherited Louie, said. “We really can’t sell him and we really can’t eat him because the meat would be too tough. He became like a pet.”

Still, that hasn’t stopped customers from coming into Peter’s Clam Bar to eat Louie.

“They just want to cook him to see what happens. I don’t want to do that. I can’t do it,” Yamali said.

So instead, he decided to throw a celebration last Friday to say goodbye to Louie.

Hempstead Town Supervisor Anthony Santino officially pardoned Louie before he was placed onto a boat, docked at Reynolds Channel, and released into the wild.

Louie has a pretty good chance of surviving, Lobster Institute at the University of Maine Executive Director Robert Bayer told ABC News.

“It’s not the ideal place to let it go but I think he’ll be fine,” Bayer said. “If the water quality is reasonable that lobster will be fine. They run basically on instinct so it should be able to find food.”

Yamali said although it was “bittersweet” to say goodbye, “We know he’s in a better place.”

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