VICTORIA â€” Daring cat burglars have stolen an iconic Bengal tiger skin that was mounted on the wall of one of Victoria’s historic watering holes.
All that remains of the tiger pelt that hung in the former Bengal Lounge at Victoria’s Fairmont Empress Hotel is a faded image of the pelt, leaving an outline that resembles crime-scene chalk.
Victoria Police said Friday the tiger hide that was a traditional fixture at the South-Asian-themed lounge was snatched sometime this week.
Police, who are reviewing hotel surveillance tapes, said they believe the tiger skin was taken last Tuesday sometime between 3:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. No arrests have been made.
Police said the tiger skin has hung in the lounge, now called the Bengal Room, since the 1990s.
The Fairmont Empress announced earlier this year that the former Bengal Lounge would undergo renovations and reopen as a more modern establishment, but removal of the tiger skin was not planned.
“We do have multiple security cameras in the area and we submitted those to the Victoria Police Department for review,” said Fairmont Empress public affairs director Kerry Duff.
She said the female tiger skin is an integral part of the Bengal Room’s traditional setting, which includes large ceiling fans and a South-Asian buffet. Duff said there were no plans to remove the pelt once the renovated room was open for full public service this fall.
“Even though the Bengal Lounge is closed as a lounge, the Bengal space was to be reopened as a space for events and weddings and things like that, and the Bengal tiger itself was to be a part of that decor,” she said.
Duff said the tiger hung over a fireplace area in the lounge.
She said hotel staff are hoping the theft is the result of a prank and the cat will come back.
Prankster’s stole the lounge’s first tiger skin in 1980 and days later left it in a box near a freight elevator outside the offices at the former Victoria Daily Times newspaper.
She said a note asked to return the tiger skin to the Bengal Lounge. It was signed Barney and Fred, in an apparent reference to popular cartoon characters Barney Rubble and Fred Flintstone.
Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press