'Locals love Roger': Celebrity marmot awakens for spring at Victoria's Fairmont Empress
Published Tuesday, May 11, 2021 10:13AM PDT
VICTORIA -- He’s a bit of an international star – but with tourism down due to the pandemic, he has quietly gone unnoticed this past year. That is, until some recent social media posts put the spotlight back on him.
Roger the Marmot woke up a few weeks ago from a long winter nap in, of all places, a hotel garden in Victoria’s Inner Harbour.
The yellow-bellied marmot has been calling the Fairmont Empress home since 2008 when it’s suspected he hitched a ride in an RV or transport truck from Alberta, where his species is much more common.
Roger is named after a former general manager of the hotel, and the marmot lives in the hotels Centennial Garden amongst the rocks, domestic beehives and flower garden.
He’s been attracting lots of attention lately, spending time out in his garden where people can see him getting ready for his unofficial role as one of the hotel's ambassadors.
"He’s really just a happy accident," said Tracey Drake, the director of marketing and communications for the Fairmont Empress Hotel
"For all the years that he’s been at the hotel, he’s been one of the main attractions, especially for the young kids that come to stay at the hotel," she said. "I feel like he’s a great ambassador without knowing he’s such an important part of how we connect with our families and our guests. So, I think that’s a really special thing."
Back in 2010, Roger eluded several attempts to capture him and return him back to a yellow-bellied marmot colony somewhere else. After outsmarting his would-be captors, he was eventually left to settle in and call the Fairmont Empress home.
Drake says he likes eating dandelions and lettuce, and will often emerge from hiding with a friendly whistle or by calling his name.
"Locals love Roger," according to the hotel’s director of marketing and communications. "So it’s not like he’s been without food or attention, there are certain locals that come by all the time, sometimes daily if he’s around."