The Bank of Latvia have issued a silver coin to mark the centennial of the Riga Zoo. Located in Mežaparks, on the western bank of Ķīšezers lake, the origins of the Riga Zoo date back to 29th September 1908 when the association “Riga Zoological Gardens” was formed with the aim of collecting donations and preparing the work needed for the founding a zoo. On the 14th October 1912 when the gates opened to the public, visitors were able to observe 88 species of animals. During World War I (1917) the Zoo was closed and 37 of the most valuable animals were taken to Germany. It was not until the 24th September 1933 that the Riga Zoo could reopen to the public. During this period, the Zoo was home to 124 animals from 48 species and by 1938, the number of species had increased to 106. Today, the Riga Zoo houses around 3,000 animals of nearly 500 species and is visited by 250-300,000 visitors annually.
This charming coin, struck at the Mint of Finland is the work of graphic artist Ivars Mailītis and its obverse features the main entrance gates with the inscription ZOODĀRZS (ZOO) and groups of exotic animals on both sides. The semi-circled inscription above the primary design reads “RĪGAS ZOOLOĢISKAIS DĀRZS” (Riga Zoo) and the year “2012” is just below the main text. The inscription 1 LATS is positioned towards the lower half. The innovative reverse design which is especially eye-catching, featuring a circle of seven animal figures. The coin’s edge carries the inscriptions LATVIJAS BANKA (Bank of Latvia), LATVIJAS REPUBLIKA (Republic of Latvia) and 2012, separated by dots.
Struck in sterling silver to proof quality, the coin weighs 27 grams with a diameter of 35 mm. A mintage of 5,000 pieces has been authorized.
For more information on this and other coins offered by the Bank of Latvia, please visit their website at: http://www.bank.lv/en/money/riga-zoo and to read more about the Riga zoo, please visit their website at: http://rigazoo.lv/public/index_en.html which is displayed in English.