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What on earth is the animal on Moldova's flag?

March 12, 2024
min read

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Did you know that Moldova's flag has an extinct animal on it?

The current flag was adopted after Moldova became free from the USSR in 1991. It borrows the blue, yellow and red tricolor from Romania and features Moldova's coat of arms. It has a golden eagle holding an Orthodox cross in its beak and an olive branch and scepter in its talons. And there's also a shield which features an aurochs.But what in the world is an aurochs, and how did it end up on Moldova's flag?

The aurochs is an extinct cattle species that's the wild ancestor of modern domestic cattle. It was a lot bigger than modern cows. For thousands of years aurochs were the largest land mammals in Europe, but they went extinct in 1627.

According to legend, in the 1300s, Prince Dragoș, the first Voivode of Moldavia, was hunting an aurochs when it ran into a river. His dog, named Molda, followed the aurochs and drowned in the river. Dragoș named the river Moldova after his dog, and the river gave the name to the wider region of Moldova, which was then called Moldavia. He also used the aurochs in his coat of arms and flag. And with the exception of the Soviet period in Moldova's history, it's always had the aurochs in its coat of arms and flag.

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