PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY )– It was the wildlife equivalent of a 911 call when a crew from the Virginia Living Museum rescued an extremely rare calico lobster from the display tank at a Red Lobster restaurant in Manassas, Virginia.
In late April, Red Lobster reached out to the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. Then, the AZA reached out to the Virginia Living Museum after the restaurant crew spotted an unusual speckled lobster in their catch of the day.
Senior Director of Animal Welfare and Conservation Chris Crippen and Curator Patrycja Lawryniuk jumped in their rescue vehicle, plotted a course for Manassas, and arrived on the scene before the dinner crowd arrived.
“We knew how close we were to be able to rescue it and we had the perfect home for it,” said VLM Media and Communications Manager Judy Triska.
“They knew they had something unusual and probably in their lot of the live lobsters they bring in. They saw that this was not your average lobster,” she said.
The lobster is now named “Freckles.”
One in 30 million are the odds of catching a calico lobster, which is easily spotted by predators in the Atlantic.
“It would be the first one that a predator would see because normally they are kind of a brownish or greyish color,” she said.
He’s now safe in quarantine at the Virginia Living Museum. but there’s already a flap surrounding Freckles, the celebrity calico lobster.
The story of Freckles the lobster has been covered by news organizations from Kuwait to New York. Now, TMZ may be added to the coverage, as the first celebrity calico lobster scandal is unfolding.
As it turns out, Freckles is upstaging and displacing Cupcake, who has been on display for four to five years.
“We currently have a lobster display and what we might have to do is find our existing lobster a new home — [she] is quite large,” said Triska.
“Her name is Cupcake and she is has been there for many, many years. She may be picked up by another zoo or aquarium across the country,” said Triska.
Could the relocation cause controversy? Is Cupcake being upstaged by a younger calico crustacean?
“Yeah, I’m afraid so, because Cupcake is just a normal lobster,” said Triska.
In about a month, once a new home is found for Cupcake, visitors will be able to say “so long” to Cupcake and “hello” to Freckles. For now, Freckles is in quarantine in a tank of saltwater set to his preferred temperature of 58 degrees. He dines on delicacies including shrimp, squid, and herring. Since Virginia is for Lovers, his special treats include love clams or oysters.
The VLM is located at 524 J. Clyde Morris Boulevard and is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. To get more information on this lobster tale and other wildlife, contact the museum at 757-595-1900.