World coins aren’t the unique province of zoo commemoratives.
Several medals feature the beauty and grandeur of wildlife and zoos
and are available for collectors.
One of the oldest such medal comes from the Amsterdam Zoo, which
opened in 1838.
In 1888, for its 50th anniversary, a bronze medal was issued with an
obverse design populated by a lion, tiger and elephant. Today the zoo
is much more than the standard warehouse of animals, having an
aquarium and a planetarium for guests also to enjoy.
Just a few years later, the Antwerp Zoo was established in Belgium’s
capital city in 1843.
Zoos continually refine their presentations about and collections of
wildlife, adding areas that might be popular with visitors.
In 1911, a bronze medal was issued to celebrate the opening of the
Antwerp Zoo’s aquarium and reptile gallery. Unlike so many zoo coins
and medals, this elegant work highlights its aquatic offerings and, at
64 millimeters in diameter, to a stunning effect.
Perhaps the most successfully executed menagerie is seen on the 1826
medal of the Zoological Society of London.
Designed by famed medalist and artist Benjamin Wyon (after Thomas
Landseer), both sides of the medal are filled with animals, save for
the society’s name, the year and the names of the artists. Twelve
birds appear on the obverse and seven animals are on the reverse.
Very limited numbers of the medals have been issued over the years
as needed for awards — only five in gold, 59 in silver and 22 in
bronze, according to a 1957 list cited by Christopher Eimer in his
2010 magnum opus, British Commemorative Medals and their Values
(no more recent list is available).