Story at a glance

  • Late last month, employees at a Red Lobster in Manassas, Va., found the lobster amongst a shipment from Maine.
  • Chances of catching one of the unique invertebrates is 1 in 30 million.
  • “Freckles” was retrieved by researchers from the Virginia Living Museum and will live as part of an exhibit.

An extremely rare lobster that almost ended up as someone’s dinner at a Virginia Red Lobster restaurant is alive and well. 

Calico lobsters have a striking orange, black and speckled shell and are exceedingly rare, as researchers estimate the chance of catching one of the unique invertebrates is 1 in 30 million. 


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Late last month, employees at a Red Lobster in Manassas, Va., found the lobster, who has since been named “Freckles,” amongst a shipment from Maine and recognized it was a unique specimen. Red Lobster then reached out to a zoo that had rescued a different rare lobster from one of its restaurants last year. 

“Calico-colored lobsters like Freckles are so rare, it was almost unbelievable that we received one! 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,” a Red Lobster spokesperson told Changing America. 

The zoo then connected Red Lobster with the Virginia Living Museum, which has a science center, zoo and aquarium in Newport News, Va. A rescue team was sent to the restaurant to retrieve the lobster and bring him to his new home where he’ll be part of the museum’s Chesapeake Bay Gallery. 

“Red Lobster reached out to the AZA network — of which we are a proud member — to provide a home for this rare and beautiful animal,” Virginia Living Museum’s Senior Director of Animal Welfare and Conservation Chris Crippen said in a statement

“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 efforts of the American lobster fisher,” Crippen said. 

Researchers note that calico lobsters rarely survive in the wild because their bright colors make them easy for predators to spot. 


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Published on May 10, 2021