Zoo News is Good News: Lucky Asian Elephant Samson has a new home at the Oregon Zoo

By Oregon Zoo Staff

Bull asian elephant Samson on his first day in Elephant Lands. © Oregon Zoo / photo by Michael Durham.

Portland’s prodigious pachyderm family just got four tons bigger. Samson, a 19-year-old Asian elephant from ABQ BioPark Zoo in Albuquerque, N.M., arrived in town last month and caregivers are eager to welcome the extra-large newcomer into the Oregon Zoo herd.

Keepers hope Samson can serve as a “big brother” to the Oregon Zoo’s young male, Samudra, who turns 10 this year, and has begun to demonstrate adult behavior.

“We’re very excited to have two Sams here,” said Bob Lee, the zoo’s elephant curator. “The timing is great because our young male, Samudra, is maturing into an adult bull, and he could benefit from the companionship of an older male.”

In a natural setting, Lee said, adult male elephants are not permanent members of family herds. The majority of their time spent with females is for courtship and breeding, and the rest of the time, they live apart, sometimes forming bachelor herds.

Lee is hopeful that Samson also will hit it off with Rose-Tu — mom to both Samudra and Lily — perhaps adding to the population of this highly endangered species.

“Over the years, we’ve learned the importance of family and connection as a critical part of an elephant’s full social life,” Lee said. “Belonging to a multigenerational family and participating in the raising of young — with male elephants coming in and out of the herd at different times — stimulates and motivates each member of the herd physically, emotionally and psychologically.”

A date for Samson’s public debut has not been set, but visitors should be able to see him in Elephant Lands soon.

The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its Asian elephant program, which has spanned more than 60 years. The zoo supports a broad range of efforts to help wild elephants, and has established a $1 million endowment fund supporting Asian elephant conservation.

For more information, visit oregonzoo.org