A rare lobster almost ended up as someone’s dinner at a Red Lobster restaurant in Virginia before employees recognized its uniqueness and rescued it.
The male calico lobster, named Freckles by the Red Lobster team in Manassas, arrived at the restaurant on April 25 as part of its Maine lobster delivery.
When team members recognized the lobster’s unique, orange and black freckled shell covering, they reached out to Red Lobster’s support team and confirmed it was a rare calico.
“Calico-colored lobsters like Freckles are so rare, it was almost unbelievable that we received one,” a Red Lobster spokesperson told CNN. “We are so proud of our employees for recognizing that Freckles was so special – and for reaching out so we could make arrangements for rescue.”
Calico lobsters are the third rarest lobsters in the world, preceded by split-colored and albino lobsters, the spokesperson said, adding that the chance of catching a calico is 1 in 30 million.
To provide the lobster with a safe home, the restaurant reached out to officials at the Akron Zoo who connected them with the Virginia Living Museum, where Freckles will now live.
“Calico-colored lobsters like Freckles are so rare because their coloring makes them very visible and thus vulnerable to predators,” the Red Lobster spokesperson said. “Because a calico-colored lobster is so rare and vulnerable in the wild, it was important that we found him a good home versus setting him free in the wild where he likely would not survive.”
“We hope Freckles brings lots of joy to guests of the museum and lives a long and wonderful life,” the spokesperson said.
On April 29, two Virginia Living Museum employees traveled to Manassas and collected the lobster from the restaurant tank. They then transported Freckles to the museum in Newport News, the museum said in a press release Tuesday.
After a veterinary evaluation and quarantining for 30 days to make sure he is still healthy, Freckles will join the museum’s public exhibit in its Chesapeake Bay Gallery.
“We see this as an opportunity to share nature’s anomaly with guests, as well as continue important education about sustainable seafood practices and significant conservation,” Chris Crippen, the museum’s senior director of Animal Welfare and Conservation, said in a statement.
The Virginia Living Museum is home to natural exhibits including animals, plants, reptiles and birds. The museum and Red Lobster have partnered with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program, which “is committed to choosing sustainable seafood for healthier oceans, now and for future generations,” the statement said.