IGA seeking home for rare orange lobster

He munches on hand-fed shrimp every day, enjoys local celebrity status and will avoid the boiling finish that’s coming for his darker-shelled tank mates.

Fish seller Andre Charest holds up an orange lobster in Trois-Rivieres

Fish seller Andre Charest holds up an orange lobster in Trois-Rivieres

MONTREAL — He munches on hand-fed shrimp every day, enjoys local celebrity status and will avoid the boiling finish that’s coming for his darker-shelled tank mates.

A lucky orange lobster, who looks like he’s already been cooked, has beaten massive odds to receive royal treatment at a Quebec supermarket.

The carrot-coloured crustacean is more than a rarity — only one in roughly 10 million lobsters comes in that shade.

Despite multiple offers, the Trois-Rivieres store has refused to sell Youppi, who’s named after the fuzzy orange mascot of Montreal pro sports teams.

The supermarket is trying to find him a permanent home on display in an aquarium, where he could educate the masses.

But until he moves, fishmongers at the IGA supermarket will continue to be his unlikely caretakers, a job they took on when he arrived unceremoniously during a routine delivery some three weeks ago.

Youppi immediately stood out among the greenish-red creatures creeping around the cage.

“I thought someone was playing a joke on me,” said Ghislain Renaud, the fish-department employee who first laid eyes on what looked like a boiled lobster in a box crawling with live ones.

“I grabbed him and it wasn’t a joke. He was moving around quite a bit.”

At three pounds and change, Youppi is roughly the same size as the dozens of other lobsters who share his holding tank on any given day at the supermarket, about 140 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

But Renaud said the store’s high lobster turnover means he rarely gets to cavort with his mates for more than a day or two before customers take them home.

Youppi’s also the only one out of around 50 lobsters in the tank who ever gets anything to eat, as staff members are instructed to drop two or three cooked shrimp daily into the water right in front of him.

“He’s doing well, we feed him every day while we wait to find him a future home,” Renaud said Monday.

The grocery store’s manager hopes to donate Youppi to a nature interpretation centre in the city of Becancour, which is across the St. Lawrence River from Trois-Rivieres.

But the Centre de la Biodiversite is still trying to determine whether it can build a refrigerated, saltwater exhibit to hold Youppi, Jean Fortin said.

Another possible destination is the New Brunswick Aquarium and Marine Centre in Shippagan, N.B., Fortin added.

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