Roger the Empress marmot enjoying his 11th year on hotel grounds

Victoria’s famous ground squirrel charms locals and tourists alike

The notorious ground squirrel living in luxury at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress is alive and well, say staff.

Roger the yellow-bellied marmot arrived in Victoria in 2008 and has since made a home of the historic hotel.

As a species native to B.C.’s interior, no one is quite sure how Roger got to Victoria, but staff have their theories.

“He might have hitched a ride with someone,” speculates Jeremy Heryet, marketing manager for the Empress. “Maybe in the back of an RV or a truck or something like that – a guest that actually stayed at the hotel.”

“When they stayed here, he hopped off and into the bush and created a home for himself and he’s been living there ever since.”

While yellow-bellied marmots typically live in rocky areas of south-central B.C., Roger has made a home for himself in hotel’s small rock garden, finding it an ideal locations for his winter burrows. Additionally, the harbour-front property is full of lush grass, flowers and foliage for his meals come spring and summer.

According to the Empress, various organizations have tried to trap Roger and return him to his native habitat, but he’s avoided capture at least four times.

And although yellow-bellied marmot friends typically live in colonies of up to 20 members, Roger doesn’t exactly seem lonely.

“He’s certainly not afraid of people. I’ve seen him a few times, and if you make a sudden movement he’ll jump back into the bush, but for the most part he is happy and content with people around him,” Heryet said. “He’s quite photogenic, he’ll pose for photos.

He’s definitely a local story for us, he’s quite well known in the community.”

RELATED: A colony of one

With marmots often living past 15-years-old, Roger is certainly a senior. Still, the stout ground squirrel seems to be in good shape.

“We have seen him this year and he’s out and about, looks healthy and well,” Heryet said, adding that Roger is comfortable with his ‘roommates;’ the bees brought in as part of the Fairmont’s honeybee program.

“Sometimes you’ll actually catch him sitting on the beehive, in and amongst the bees.”

But if Roger’s competing for role of Empress mascot, he’ll have to accept defeat. The hotel added a golden labrador/retriever named Winston to its team.

Winston, who was “too friendly” to be a service dog, acts a greeter and ‘canine ambassador’ for the hotel.

“[Winston is] very quickly becoming our mascot,” Heryet said, adding with a laugh that they are hoping Winston and Roger “become friends.”

RELATED: New dog greeter at Fairmont Empress is spreading smiles



nina.grossman@blackpress.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

WATCH: Marine security company posts live seal cam at Oak Bay Marina

Seals tend to loiter near the fish-cleaning table

Victoria woman experiencing homelessness wants systematic changes as she faces losing her truck

Willi Boepple fears losing one of her last possessions after being inundated with parking tickets

UPDATED: Two-sailing wait at BC Ferries Swartz Bay terminal

Passengers destined for Tsawwassen without a reservation should allow for extra time at terminal

End of an era as Buddies Toys leaves Oak Bay Avenue

Victoria location merges with parent shop in Sidney

Tour de Victoria: The downlow on detours in the region

Thousands of cyclists participating in ninth Tour de Victoria

WATCH: Family dog missing after fire tears through Metchosin home

Firefighters continue to monitor for hot spots

Victoria Shamrocks open WLA finals at Q Centre in Colwood

Team is evenly matched in championship series against Maple Ridge Burrards

‘Easy Rider’ star Peter Fonda dies at 79

Actor and writer was nominated for an Oscar for co-writing the 1969 psychedelic road trip movie

Excavators help cute kid who copied their dig with his toys stay “safe at work”

Carson Carnegie wakes up at 7:00 am every morning to watch construction work on his street

Bob Lenarduzzi out as Vancouver Whitecaps president

MLS team is at the bottom of the Western Conference standings

B.C. daycare operator denies negligence in death of ‘Baby Mac’

Infant died in early 2017 after biting an electrical cord, according to a lawsuit filed by his mom

BC SPCA reopens animal cruelty investigation at Abbotsford pig farm

Additional alleged footage released from Excelsior Hog Farm sparks new investigation

RCMP on Vancouver Island seek information on alleged ‘breaking out’ bandit

Man alleged to have hid in Nanaimo business washroom ceiling overnight, took monitors

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Aug. 13

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read