Commonwealth Games:Furry friends wave the flag

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Everything from koalas to gorillas will be supporting the Island at Melbourne’s zoo thanks to a special relationship with the Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust.

Alice the koala, whose carer Sheila Roe was sent to Jersey to train, has officially adopted the Island as her ‘favourite team’ during the Commonwealth Games.

And others who will be following her are the son and three grandchildren of Jambo – Jersey’s world-famous gorilla who once protected a child who fell into the gorilla enclosure at Jersey zoo.

The primates were brought to the zoo as part of Durrell Wildlife’s extensive international breeding programme.

Motaba, the son of Jambo, also picked up some Jersey habits while he grew up in the Island.

‘He is the only gorilla who goes out to play in the rain, even if it is pouring,’ said Judith Henke, the zoo’s communications manager.

‘He clearly got used to it when he was in Jersey and likes to make the most of a downpour here.

He’s real fun.’ Other offspring from the gorillas in Melbourne have since been transferred to Jersey, including Mzuri, who was born in Australia in 1984.

The zoo, which is state-funded and attracts more than a million visitors per year, has a close working relationship with Durrell Wildlife and regularly sends employees to the Island to train in summer camps.

Senior animal keeper Miss Roe, who now cares full-time for Alice, learnt her trade in Jersey in 2000.

She said: ‘Jersey is world-famous in relation to its breeding programmes for endangered species, and I was very lucky to be able to train there for a summer.

‘It’s such a beautiful place, and a wonderful zoo for the animals.

I really enjoyed my time in the Island.’ To get Alice into the mood to support Jersey, she was paid a visit by the Jersey women’s bowls team ahead of tomorrow’s opening ceremony.

Gaynor Thomas said: ‘She’s such a cute animal, and her fur is so soft.

It’s been great to get so close to a koala.’ The creature was found clinging to its dead mother on a roadside in the suburbs of Melbourne with a broken arm.

Now 12 months old, Alice is healthy and expected to live for the next 20 years at the zoo – but she is not going to be released back into the wild because she may have problems with her arm in later life.

At the moment Alice still clings to a toy koala as she would be still dependent on her mother if in the wild.

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