Thursday, May 24, 2001

This is a long post from Monrovia's website... Monrovia's Samson the Bear Put Down at Orange County Zoo Samson, the hot tub-loving bear, who became famous when his life was spared after capture in a Monrovia neighborhood in 1994, has been euthanized by the Orange County Zoo where he had lived a pampered life for the past several years. Samson was old and sick when he was captured. His advanced age, six years later, led to his being put down. "Samson was a wonderful symbol of exactly why we are working so hard to save our last remaining hillside wilderness," said Monrovia Mayor Lara Blakely. "Our bears, deer, foxes and other wildlife enrich our lives, and they deserve to live here safely and fully." Monrovia is working to buy up the last few hundred acres of developable hillside land to set aside as a wilderness preserve. Its residents have taxed themselves $10 million to help make it happen. "Samson helped raise the environmental awareness of our community," Mayor Blakely continued. "It is fitting that we are now dedicating ourselves to making those hills safe and secure for other Samsons who call them home." Samson had roamed the hills above Monrovia's northernmost neighborhoods for years, and was no stranger to residents there - rummaging through their garbage cans, feasting on fruit off their trees and taking occasional dips in their swimming pools and hot tubs. Video tape of Samson in just such a tub became well-known nationally, along with the story of his capture and reprieve. Samson had done some garbage-can feasting and hot-tub dipping one evening in September, 1994, but became seriously ill after ingesting a plastic trash bag. He was trapped by the California Department of Fish and Game, but deemed un-releasable because of his age, worn-down teeth and his affinity for human habitat. He was slated for euthanasia. An all-out effort by Monrovia to save Sampson, led by Mr. and Mrs. Gary Potter who had shot the now-famous hot tub video tape, resulted in then-Governor Pete Wilson ordering that the bear's life be spared. Orange County Zoo stepped forward at that point and offered Samson a home. He moved into the zoo in 1996. For the past year, Samson's home has been featured on the zoo's internet site, with a camera trained on his habitat during daylight hours. Samson's story was carried world-wide by the BBC shortly after its national exposure. Samson the Bear dolls, tee shirts and hats have appeared in Monrovia from time to time since 1994, and a book, "Samson the Hot Tub Bear," was published by author Wendy Tokuda. Since news of his death began circulating in Monrovia, residents have called City Hall to suggest tributes to the bear - a statue in one of the city parks, for instance, or a Samson the Bear Day declaration. I personally like the idea of a statue to Samson in Monrovia Library Park

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