February 26th, 2014

Polar Bears from the Austrian Mint

Polar Bear 5 EuroPolar Bears at the Schoenbrunn Zoo
New 5-euro Commemorative Coin

The Austrian Mint will issue a coin to celebrate the new polar bear enclosure at Schoenbrunn Zoo, scheduled to open this May.

The delightful reverse was designed and engraved by the Mint’s Chief engraver, Thomas Pesendorfer.  The foreground of the design shows a mother polar bear with her cub, along with a curious walrus taking in the scene. To the right is a sailing ship of the late 19th century working its way through the ice flows of the polar cap. The icy landscape of the Arctic is seen in the background, along with a soaring Arctic bird in the clear sky. This side of the coin also includes the words “Abenteuer Arktis”, or Arctic Adventure, as well as the year of issue 2014.

The obverse of the nine-sided coin is the standard 5-euro design, with the denomination encircled by the shields of the nine federal provinces of Austria. In the center is the face value of 5 euros. Mint engraver Helmut Andexlinger designed the obverse.

Founded in 1752, The Schoenbrunn Zoo is the world’s oldest zoo.  The zoo is a very active institution involved in education, research and animal conservation. The famous zoo is located on the grounds of Schoenbrunn palace. The first elephant born in captivity was at Schoenbrunn Zoo in 1906.

The polar bear enclosure will be part of the area in the zoo known as “Franz Joseph Land”.  Under the sponsorship of the Emperor Franz Joseph in 1873 an expedition of Austria-Hungarian explorers went north to the arctic to conduct early research in the polar regions of the world.  An area of the Arctic honours this voyage of discovery to this day and is known as Franz Joseph Land.  It is an area of islands that belongs to Russia today.  The islands located north of the polar circle are uninhabited today.  In the past there have been weather stations, research bases and even during the cold war a strategic Russian base was located here.

The voyage of exploration sailed on the ship Admiral Tegettoff of the Austrian Navy and was stuck for a year on the ice flows of the area.  During this year many explorations and research projects were conducted.

The charming Polar Bear, which always delights visitors to zoos with its playful antics, is today faced with global warming which is reducing this animal’s natural habitat.  Thankfully, through global conservation efforts the population of Polar bears has increased to about 25,000 – a great improvement over the very small numbers of the threaten Polar bear during the 1960’s.

The landscape usually covered with snow and ice is a barren rocky land.  Numerous channels and bays separate the islands.  Many bird colonies are located on the various islands, as well as mammals indigenous to the north.  In 1994, most of the area was declared a nature reserve requiring special permits to be allowed to visit the region.

The 5 euro silver coin has a diameter of 28.5 mm, contains 8 grams of fine silver and has a fineness of 800. The silver coin is available in special uncirculated quality and will have a maximum mintage of 50,000. Each of these coins is vacuum-sealed in a colorful and informative blister pack.

Collectors in the United States and Canada may purchase the  “Polar Bear” coin for  25.00 to 29.99 USD,  by contacting:

Apmex – toll free 1 1-800-375-9006, online www.APMEX.com
Downies  – toll free at 1 877 897 7696, online www.downies.com

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