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ABQ BioPark Elephant Has a New Home at the Oregon Zoo

Samson the Asian elephant has joined the Oregon Zoo herd.

April 11, 2018 - After 14 years at the ABQ BioPark, Samson, a 19-year-old Asian elephant, has joined the Oregon Zoo herd.

Oregon zookeepers hope Samson can serve as a "big brother" to the Oregon Zoo's young male,Samudra, who turned 9 in August, and has begun to demonstrate adult behavior.

"We're very excited to have two Sams here," said Bob Lee, the Oregon 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 the wild, 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.

"Although we'll miss him very much, we are really excited for Samson," said Rhonda Saiers, ABQ BioPark assistant curator. "He's an amazing bull and he going to a great place."

Saiers described Samson as a bit shy, but also very smart and beautiful. The ABQ BioPark still has one Asian elephant bull, Albert, who is Samson's half brother.

Samson will remain behind the scenes for a month or so while he completes the standard quarantine period required of all new animals arriving at the zoo. Following that, caregivers gradually will begin acquainting him with Samudra, Rose-Tu and the rest of the herd. A date for Samson's public debut has not been set.

Samson was born May 4, 1998, at African Lion Safari in Ontario, Canada, and moved to the ABQ BioPark in 2003. His transfer to Portland was recommended by the Species Survival Plan for Asian elephants, a cooperative program aimed at supporting socially stable families and maintaining a sustainable, genetically diverse elephant population at facilities accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums.

The Oregon Zoo is recognized worldwide for its Asian elephant program, which has spanned more than 60 years. Considered highly endangered in their range countries, Asian elephants are threatened by habitat loss, conflict with humans and disease. It is estimated that just 40,000 to 50,000 elephants remain in fragmented populations from India to Borneo.