LAST WEEK we lost one of the most famous faces in Flintshire – but chances are, you don’t even know his name.
That’s because the celebrity was Rory, a four-year-old guinea pig from Mold.
Rory, who died at the beginning of August after his owner, Becky Ramsey, 20, from Mold, discovered he had a tumour, made a huge splash online in America and in France after going viral on YouTube with videos in which his mouth movements were synced to words, making him appear to talk and sing.
During his brief but stellar career, he appeared on a French video about the end of the world (viewed by more than a million people) and even acted alongside The Office star Ricky Gervais.
Becky said: “He was born June 15, 2010, and I got him from Tails-a-Waggin pet shop in Mold when he was 10 weeks old. Many people know of him – his videos did very well. Rory has been in several viral videos.
“He made his first appearance two years ago in the Animals Sing 12 Days of Christmas video when I sent in some footage of him moving his mouth (as though he was ‘talking’).
“He then made his second appearance in The Ultimate Cat Tease, which had more than seven million views. He went on to star in his own video for a company called Pets Add Life (PAL). This video had more than 4.5 million hits.”
In 2013, the man behind the Talking Animal videos, creator Andrew Grantham, teamed up with Ricky Gervais and Rory was chosen to represent Ricky Gervais’s new app Just Sayin.
Becky is understandably upset over Rory’s death, describing him as “quite a character” in his own right, although his “brother”, Harry, was generally the hutch boss.
Becky said: “Harry and Rory were extremely close. They’re not brothers by blood – I got Harry in December 2010 when Rory was six months old.
“They got on so well, no fighting whatsoever. Harry was the boss though. He was always the dominant guinea pig.”
Harry wasn’t jealous of his famous cage-mate, though, and even appeared with him on the French video, where the two guinea pigs ‘discuss’ surviving various doomsday scenarios.
Becky added: “He (Rory) was honestly the best and had so much personality. .”
She is now looking for a new “sibling” for Harry.
Of course, Rory was not the only popular animal in the area.
This week the Leader highlighted the story of Omelette, a ginger tom cat familiar to the congregation at St Collen’s Church in Llangollen.
After being attacked by a dog, pledges to fund his care came pouring in from across the country.
Readers may also be familiar with Brutus, the Morrison’s Cat, who is a regular sight at the supermarket in Saltney.
The friendly tabby acts as an unofficial greeter for shoppers and can often be found napping on one of the child seats in a trolley.
He now has a following of several thousand people on Facebook.
Over in Wrexham, market pet stall Petsave has a feathered customer.
Claire Culleton, an assistant on the stall, said: “One of my customers brings his parrot in on his shoulder to choose its own food!
“We have some lovely crazy pet owners.”
Other residents noted the friendliness of “Maggie”, a Westie dog who frequents Eagles Meadow Shopping Centre, saying that everyone comes to speak to her, while some read up on the adventures of Fred, the ginger Cat’s Protection Wrexham mascot, who “blogs” about goings-on at the centre.
In Mold, a colony of semi-feral cats keep company with party-goers, holiday makers and commuters who make use of Stanways Taxis.
Sharon Lewis, manager of the Wrexham Street cab service, said: “They’re wonderful. The customers will bring them food. We had four cats, but two went missing, Cheeks and Boots, which is a bit worrying.
“But we still have Scrags and Curly-Wurly. They are wild, no one owns them, but the customers love them. They’ll fuss them when they can.”
The cats even make an appearance at the front desk.
Sharon said: “Scrags is like another receptionist. When Cheeks was still here, if someone came in after a night out and was being quite loud, he’d just go up to the window, sit and stare at them through the glass and give them dirty looks.
“Customers like having them here. It’s quite unusual to have cats in a taxi office but they’ve been here for five years now.
“We’re used to them and they are used to us.
“They will follow us around, but they’re very smart. They’ll sit and wait to cross the road until we say it's safe to do so.”
Stanways was acquired by Apollo in Wrexham a little while ago and is now owned by Barry Jones, who also “inherited” the little tribe of cats along with the business.
Sharon said: “He was quite
Another cat Casper, two, of Wrexham, is not so well known, but he does have a claim to fame – his owner Jan Bancroft, 34, of Wrexham, believes he’s a dead ringer for the 02 mobile phone company mascot.
The advertising phenomenon, which sees a long-haired cat “be more dog” in order to advertise the phone company, has seen the computer-generated feline do everything from sticking his head out of car windows and catching frisbees to taking part in a US-style motivational speaking event.
Casper, on the other hand, is very much real.
Jan said: “When we had him it was bigger than him! He doesn’t run back and forth on a stage giving people pep talks – I wish! But he’s very fluffy. He's the spitting image of the 02 cat.”
Casper is a house cat, so he is not likely to become as much of a famous face as Rory, Brutus, Fred or the Stanways cats – but he does a good impression of his celebrity lookalike.