7 Things to Know About the Amazing Fruit Bat Quarters

©. United States Mint

New quarters are coming and they star FRUIT BATS!

We are not far into 2020 yet, and it's already, you know, "interesting." As in, the news is stressful – koala bears on fire, impeachment chaos, earthquakes, thoughts of war ... take your pick.

But at least there is this: We are getting new quarters with fruit bats on them!

Here is how they came about and what to know.

1. The coin's future was written in 2008

On December 23, 2008, Public Law 110–456 was signed. Known as America's Beautiful National Parks Quarter Dollar Coin Act of 2008, the aim of the act is to "provide for a program for circulating quarter dollar coins that are emblematic of a national park or other national site in each State, the District of Columbia, and each territory of the United States."

2. It is 51 in a series of 56

In the halcyon days of 2010, the United States Mint began issuing the coins in the United States Mint America the Beautiful Quarters Program. Altogether, there are 56 quarter designs depicting national parks and other national sites, with five being issued per year. The first depicted Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas and was released on April 19, 2010.

3. The coin commemorates the National Park of American Samoa

Former Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner chose the complete list of sites after consulting with the governor or other leader of each state or jurisdiction and former Secretary of the Interior Kenneth Salazar. The fruit bat quarter was designed to honor the National Park of American Samoa, which is located in a group of volcanic islands 2,600 miles southwest of Hawaii – it is one of the most remote parks in the U.S. National Park System. The park’s area comprises 13,500 acres, 4,000 of which are underwater.

4. The Samoan fruit bat is a special bat

There are three types of fruit bats in American Samoa, but the star of the new quarter is Pteropus samoensis (pe'a vao), commonly known as the Samoan fruit bat. It is presently found only in the Samoan Archipelago and Fiji. These megabats are huge, with a wing span up to 3 feet wide. There are indications that they are monogamous, and they are renowned for their close parenting, "Even after they are capable of flight, the young continue to receive parental care, perhaps until they reach adult size or become reproductively active themselves," notes the park's website.

5. It's money with a message

The coin depicts a Samoan fruit bat mother hanging with her pup. "The image evokes the remarkable care and energy that this species puts into their offspring," writes the Mint. "The design is intended to promote awareness to the species’ threatened status due to habitat loss and commercial hunting. The National Park of American Samoa is the only park in the United States that is home to the Samoan fruit bat."

6. The design was sculpted by a woman

fruit bat drawing

© United States Mint The coin was designed by artist Richard Masters, and was sculpted by sculptor Phebe Hemphill. A graduate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Hemphill has worked with a number of companies producing figurines, medallions, dolls, and toys. Prior to joining the United States Mint’s team of medallic artists in 2006, she was a staff sculptor with McFarlane Toys in Bloomingdale, New Jersey, notes the Mint. She also holds the sculpting credits for dozens and dozens of other coins and medals created by the Mint as well. What a cool job, right?

7. It will be released on February 3, 2020

The quarter will be the first National Park quarter of 2020 to be released, which will happen in the first week of February. Following, four more – numbers 52 to 55 – will be released:

  • Weir Farm National Historic Site in Connecticut on April 6, 2020
  • Salt River Bay National Historical Park and Ecological Preserve in U.S. Virgin Islands on June 1, 2020
  • Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Vermont on August 31, 2020
  • Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas on November 16, 2020
america the beautiful quarters

© United States Mint

The last quarter of the series will be released on February 1, 2021 and will feature the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site in Alabama.