The 2012 Zoo Animals Series follows on from the success of the Ocean, Land and Air series. The Zoo Animals series was released to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Melbourne Zoo. (Royal Australian Mint, 2012) The series encompasses six, uncirculated coins, each depicting a unique exotic animal that can be found at the Melbourne Zoo; the Goodfellow's Tree Kangaroo, Sumatran Tiger, Orang-utan, Western Lowland Gorilla, Southern Corroboree Frog, and Asian Elephant.
The series was periodically released in pairs throughout the year in specially design cards. The Asian Elephant was part of the first release, alongside the Western Lowland Gorilla. The Asian Elephant can reach a stunning 6.4 meters in length and weigh as much as 5 tonnes. This size is maintained by eating an average of 150 kg of food per day. This stunning species faces threats from a shrinking habitat and illegal hunting and trade. (World Wildlife Fund, 2017) At the time of this coins mintage the Melbourne Zoo was home to a family of seven Asian Elephants, with a new calf set to be born. (Royal Australian Mint, 2012)
Using a colour/pad printing process, the Mint perfectly captures the colours of this species. The reverse was created by first striking the coin with a very detailed relief then applying coloured ink to further enhance the design. (Royal Australian Mint, 2008) The result is eye-catching with precise, vivid details and intense colour, paying artistic homage to this stunning species. The obverse features Ian Rank-Broadley's image of Queen Elizabeth II.
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