Tortoise Takeover 2023

The Royal Yacht are delighted to be an Official Trail Sponsor for the Durrell Jersey Zoo Tortoise Takeover 2023. 


In association with Wild In Art, Durrell has a total of 50 large tortoises located at various spots around the island, to create the ‘Tortoise Trail’. The trail launched on Saturday 1st July and will run until 31st August before all the tortoises head up to Jersey Zoo for the farewell weekend from 14th – 17th September.

Our tortoise: ‘Not Fast Food’ 

Artist: Donna Newman


We are delighted to unveil our very own tortoise. Located on Queen Street. It’s big, it’s bold and it’s covered in ketchup! A fun play on words, ‘Not Fast Food’ transforms the sculpture into a giant burger. The larger-than-life sesame seed buns are filled with scrumptious salad and look good enough to eat. Created by artist Donna Newman of Eden Designs Murals who works with schools across the Midlands to transform their learning environments with her vibrant artwork. She brings colour and life through her playful designs.


On 21st September, all the giant tortoises will go under the hammer at auction, held at The Royal Yacht, with celebrity auctioneer Charles Hanson. The auction is to raise vital funds to help build a new Tropical House at Jersey Zoo. The Reptile and Amphibian House at Jersey Zoo is home to some of the most endangered species that Durrell works with, but is in urgent need of improved and more sustainable facilities.

The Grand Gorilla Auction

£1,146,500 raised for Durrell

The Grand Gorilla Auction

£1,146,500 raised for Durrell

The Grand Gorilla Auction

£1,146,500 raised for Durrell

The Grand Gorilla Auction

Re-Wilding and The Royal Yacht Hotel 

This year it is 60 years since Gerald Durrell established the Jersey Zoo, with its main objective to save endangered species from extinction.  In a way to celebrate this milestone, Durrell’s team led by CEO Dr Lesley Dickie launched a re-wilding initiative to create the largest public art trail up to date on the island with a view to get children away from their computer games and entice families out of their homes to have fun going on an island search for a total of 85 silverback and young gorillas and get them more connected to nature. As part of the campaign they aimed to raise critical funds needed to build a new state of the art home for their troop of Gorillas. The troop of gorilla sculptures were painted by many renowned local and international artists, some of who travelled from all parts of the globe to do so, although the smaller gorillas were painted by many of the island local schools and communities. 

James Taylor Durrell Gorillas

Durrell approached The Royal Yacht Hotel, to see if they might be interested in sponsoring one of the gorillas.  James Taylor and his family Geraldine, Charlie and Cara are very passionate believers in what Durrell are trying to achieve. Therefore, James, who is the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Hotel had absolutely no hesitation in getting on board with this initiative.  Furthermore he was not just prepared to sponsor a gorilla, he was delighted to make a large donation becoming one of the project official suppliers. 

We were invited to the launch of the trail at the zoo, to choose a gorilla for sponsoring and there was one that stood out amongst the rest “That Elusive Dodo”, created by the extremely talented portrait artist Oliver Winconek.  This amazing gorilla had a portrait of Gerald Durrell on one side and a Dodo on the other, which is so symbolic to the zoo.  The Royal Yacht Hotel has been delighted to have its name attributed to this magnificent, beautifully painted gorilla, which James and family have become very attached to themselves. 

The gorillas were situated in various areas all around the island and on 27th July, many families and visitors set off on the 77 day trail to find them and literally tens of thousands of photos were taken, many of which were published on the Durrell website and social media. Stephen Wilson, our Facilities and Maintenance Manager (pictured below) even went on a 11-week quest around our beautiful island in pursuit of the Elusive Dodo, (The Royal Yacht Hotel Gorilla) discovering the 40 silverback gorillas and 45 young ones. James always felt that this re-wilding initiative would be a great success, however he believes that this has gone way beyond anyone’s expectations. 


Now that the gorilla trail has finished, the gorillas were auctioned off on the 6th November 2019 by celebrity auctioneer Charles Hanson at The Royal Yacht Hotel.  This was publicised and live streamed for all to participate in, and bids came in from all over the world for these magnificent works of art, raising a total of £1,146,500, which will help in achieving Durrell’s vision for a wilder, healthier and more colourful world.

The Royal Yacht Go Wild Gorilla Auction

James would like to congratulate Durrell on their incredible achievement, which means that the gorillas in the zoo will now get a new home.  James would also like to give special thanks to Jacqueline McDermott & Steve Wilson for all of their hard work with this project.


Ready To Go Wild

To celebrate Durrell’s 60th anniversary, The Royal Yacht, is very proud to be partnering with Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust and Go Wild Gorillas as an Official Supplier on the Go Wild Gorilla Trail. The aim of this project is to raise funds for A new Gorilla House at Gerald Durrell’s, Jersey Zoo.

On Saturday 27th July, the trail of life size gorillas will be launched around the island designed by various local & UK artists.

Stephen Wilson, our Facilities and Maintenance Manager, will go on a 11-week quest around our beautiful island in pursuit of the Elusive Dodo, (The Royal Yacht Hotel Gorilla) discovering the 40 silverback gorillas and 45 young ones. Join him on a trail of discovery and rewilding.

GWG Steve Wilson

When did you first become interested in Gorillas?

I think the first time that I really became interested in Gorillas was back in 1986 when the 5 year old boy fell into the gorilla enclosure, making national news. It really fascinated me the way that Jambo acted so human like, protecting the young lad and genuinely seemed really concerned for him.  

 Do you have any involvement with the gorillas at the zoo?

I am a zoo volunteer, but unfortunately not. The gorillas are very lucky to have Chris, Mark and Laura taking extremely good care of them.  I always visit the gorillas whenever I am at the zoo though.  They are the most beautiful animals, I could watch them for hours.

 Tell us more about what Go Wild Gorillas is about?

Go Wild Gorillas is designed to encourage people to get out of their homes and follow the trail around the island, where there will be 40 life size gorillas painted by various incredible artists.  There are also 45 smaller size gorillas, which have been painted by schools etc. and are in various shops and establishments around town.  The aim is to raise funds to build a new home for the gorillas at the zoo.

Go Wild Gorillas Sneak Peek

 Why has The Royal Yacht Hotel got involved in this project?

The Jersey zoo approached the Hotel Sales Manager, Jacqueline McDermott, who in turn approached James Taylor, Hotel Chairman & CEO, to see if he might be interested in becoming a sponsor partner for a gorilla.  James is very passionate himself and a great support of the Durrell Trust and what they aim to achieve and had absolutely no hesitation in saying yes.  The final auction of the painted gorillas will also be held at the Royal Yacht Hotel.

 What has influenced you to become involved yourself?

This year it is 60 years since Gerald Durrell had the most AMAZING idea to establish a different type of zoo in Jersey, with a view to protect endangered species.  Last year, I was lucky enough to be given an invite to Durrell’s strategy launch, where Dr Lesley Dickie, who is the zoo CEO, talked about rewilding and their initiative to get the young away from the television and their computer games, and encouraging them to having fun in the great outdoors.  It was at this conference where I heard Lesley talking about the Go Wild Gorillas and I have never heard anyone talk with so much passion.  She has done so much good at the zoo, she is becoming a bit of a hero of mine.  I am also very jealous of my wife Reka, as she is so lucky to work for the zoo and I think it is her who gives me my most inspiration.  She is very passionate about the zoo and I think this rubs off on me.

 Will you be doing the Go Wild Gorillas trail?

Yes.  Go Wild Gorillas is launching Saturday 27th July and I aim to find and be photographed by at least one gorilla a day, and you will be able to follow my journey across social media over the next 77 days, in my hunt to find the Royal Yacht Hotel gorilla.  You will also find special Royal Yacht Hotel deals and competitions here, along with gorilla facts & fun!  Happy hunting and enjoy the Go Wild Gorillas Trail!