11/18/2011 03:55 EST | Updated 01/18/2012 11:21 EST

Youppi, Rare Orange Lobster, Dies


MONTREAL - It wasn't boiling water but possibly a variation in temperature in his saltwater tank that wound up cooking Youpi, the celebrity lobster.

Plans are underway now to celebrate the short, mostly uneventful life of the sea creature whose beady, unblinking eyes warmed the hearts of Canadians, some of whom perhaps dreamed only of seeing him on their plate.

He earned minor national fame, grabbing news headlines for the genetic defect that turned him a bright orange — a one-in-10-million hue for a living lobster.

An afficionado of pretty much any shrimp that was fed to him, the three-pound Youpi became a truly heavenly lobster on Nov. 4.

"It could have been a variation in temperature" in his tank, said Guylaine Frechette, director of the nature centre that gave him a home. She added that the exact cause of his demise hasn't been determined.

But Youpi won't be forgotten.

He'll be celebrated in a year-long sendoff with the lobster laid out on display, allowing people to pay their respects — or just to learn something about lobsters.

"We have school groups that visit us year after year and, this year, we'll be able to talk about Youpi being on view," she said with a laugh.

It won't quite be a lying-in-state.

Frechette said Friday in a telephone interview that Youpi will be part of an exhibit that shows local children about aquatic life.

The carrot-coloured crustacean became a national celebrity after he was discovered crawling amid a batch of greenish-red compatriots at a local grocery store in Trois-Rivieres, Que., about 140 kilometres northeast of Montreal.

People flocked to see him, even bringing their kids. The staff of the store named him after the fuzzy orange Montreal sports mascot and even hand-fed him shrimp.

Media across Canada embraced the story of the muscular critter who looked like he had already been cooked.

All the attention prompted donors to come forward with money to build a new saltwater tank at the nearby nature centre to house him.

Marine experts say only about one in 10 million lobsters come in Youpi's shade and that they're three times more uncommon than rare blue lobsters. The orange colour has been blamed on a genetic defect.

Youpi was originally known as Youppi!, after the fuzzy orange mascot of the Montreal Canadiens and defunct Montreal Expos baseball team.

But Frechette said the nature centre's staff decided to alter the name slightly so they wouldn't run the risk of infringing on any trademarks.

She chuckled when it was suggested that the colourful claw-snapper continues to give back to the community with the display, even after he's skittered into the afterlife.

But she agreed his passing certainly had tongues wagging.

"I was very surprised to hear people's reactions," she said of local sadness at the untimely departure of the 10-legged creature.

In lieu of flowers, the Centre d'interpretation de Baie-du-Febvre has asked for donations in his name.

The centre says people donating in his name will recieve a "magnificent" key-chain in his image.