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

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Allayah Yoli Thomas had recently turned 12 years old when she died of a suspected drug overdose April 15. (Courtesy of Adriana Londono)
Suspected overdose death of Saanich girl, 12, speaks to lack of supports, says mom

Allayah Yoli Thomas was found dead by her friend the morning of April 15

The Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors in July 2021. (Malahat SkyWalk photo)
Malahat SkyWalk will open to visitors this July

Highly anticipated attraction will take guests 250m above sea level

Illegal goods seized in the simultaneous April 23 busts in Saanich and Sooke. (Courtesy of West Shore RCMP)
RCMP drug busts net trucks, cocaine, cash and Hells Angels gear

Simultaneous searches coordinated between West Shore, Saanich and Sooke police

The Vancouver Island Regional Correctional Centre on Wilkinson Road in Saanich. (Black Press Media file photo)
Police watchdog investigates after man found unresponsive at Saanich jail

Man was in Victoria police custody the day before being found

Protesters attempt to stop clear-cutting of old-growth trees in Fairy Creek near Port Renfrew. (Will O’Connell photo)
VIDEO: Workers, activists clash at site of Vancouver Island logging operation

Forest license holders asking for independent investigation into incident

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of May 4

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

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Do you plan to travel on the Victoria Day long weekend?

It’s the unofficial start to the summer season. A time of barbecues,… Continue reading

More than 6,000 camping reservations in British Columbia were cancelled as a result of a provincial order limiting travel between health regions. (Unsplash)
1 in 4 camping reservations cancelled in B.C. amid COVID-19 travel restrictions

More than 6,000 BC Parks campsite reservations for between April 19 and May 25 have been revoked

B.C. average home price and sales level to 2023, showing steep drop in sales expected next year. (Central 1)
Forecast calls for B.C. home sales to ‘explode,’ then drop off

Average price to rise another 10% in 2021, credit unions say

Members of Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. (File photo)
B.C.-wide #DayOfMusic to feature 100-plus free virtual concerts May 15

‘Our colleagues across the province have figured out new ways to perform and connect,’ VSO boss says

Two passengers were recently fined thousands of dollars after they faked their pre-flight COVID-19 test results. (Paul Clarke/Black Press)
2 passengers in Canada fined thousands for faking pre-flight COVID-19 tests

The government issued a warning Thursday to others thinking of doing the same – do it and you’ll be ordered to pay

(File)
With revenge porn on the rise in 2021, B.C. seeks feedback for new legislation

New legislation could help victims take down images and receive compensation

Port Alberni RCMP are investigating a homicide on Third Avenue. (SUSAN QUINN / Alberni Valley News)
RCMP investigating homicide in Port Alberni apartment

Investigators are still trying to determine the identity of the deceased

Most Read