Pandas have continuously made the vulnerable species list for many decades. With a short lifespan, 20 years in the wild, pandas are also threatened by loss of habitat, low birth rate and sadly, poachers who hunt these gentle creatures for their fur.
WWF, zoos, and advocates across the world have been noted for their efforts towards panda conservation. Efforts that have helped increase panda reproduction in captivity and studies to which have expanded awareness of this vulnerable species position in the world.
The People’s Republic of China may have inadvertently contributed to global awareness with its introduction of the Gold Bullion Panda coin in 1982. The coins’ production was a direct response to the South African Krugerrand's popularity and hoping to achieve the same results; the PRC struck its first set of gold pandas.
The initial release consisted of four sizes: 1oz, ½ oz, ¼ oz, and 1/10 oz. The following year, in 1983, an additional troy ounce size was added: 1/20 oz. Each coin features the Temple of Heaven, the country’s oldest Taoist temple in Beijing, on the obverse and a solitary panda enjoying its signature meal, a bamboo shoot, on the reverse.
Throughout the years, the coins have remained consistent regarding size, denomination, and the obverse design. Each year, however, the reverse design is changed. The panda designs range from a mother and her cub to two cubs playing together, or a single panda. No matter the image, the pandas are always depicted as their usual noteworthy playful, loving selves.
Incidentally, there are two years, 2001 and 2002, in which the reverse image did not change. This lack of delivering a new look sparked a small outrage, which the PRC acknowledged and promptly corrected in the years that followed.
Considered to be a token of stability against inflation, many choose to invest in the .999 gold coins. Each year, Chinese mints produce these beautifully crafted coins made from gold mined solely in China. While various mints across China strike these treasured panda coins, they are released in very low quantities, making them highly sought after panda commemoratives and collectors squirming with anticipation each year.
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