Oregon Zoo welcomes new elephant

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Oregon Zoo welcomed a new elephant on Tuesday.

Samson, a 19-year-old Asian elephant, arrived from ABQ BioPark Zoo in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Zookeepers hope Samson will serve as a “big brother” to 10-year-old Samudra.

“Samson coming in, having that kind of wisdom to show him right from wrong as he ages is incredibly important,” animal curator Bob Lee said. “For the most part, we believe they’re going to get along wel.”

They also hope Samson will hit it off with Rose-Tu to add to the population. 

“If he and Rose decided to have a baby, we would most welcome that,” Lee said. 

For his first month or so, Samson will be separated from the rest of the herd because zookeepers want to gradually introduce him to the family. 

That doesn’t mean the other elephants aren’t aware of the new addition. 

“There have been some behavioral changes, there’s been some head’s cocked, there’s been some ears kind of listening a little harder than in past years,” Lee said. 

A few lucky zoo visitors also caught a glimpse of Samson’s head on Wednesday, but the general public won’t really get to see him until sometime in May. 

Amid all the excitement, there is still some concern given the Oregon Zoo’s history with the elephant program. Several elephants had to be euthanized due to tuberculosis and other injuries in recent years.

“Without going through those processes, we don’t learn and grow,” Lee said. “We’re all about learning and growing and we acknowledge the past and we grow from it.”

Samson was born in May 1998 in Ontario, Canada and moved to Albuquerque in 2003. 

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