Saturday, August 13, 2011

Samson the Hot Tub Bear

Samson is probably the most famous furry resident of Monrovia. Books have celebrated his unusual life. A statue was erected in Canyon Park in his honor. The world came to his aid when he was in need. His story in a nutshell....

Samson spent his early years roaming the Foothills above Monrovia. Later the aging bear discovered the easy life of living on trash. In 1994, after several months of enjoying a backyard pool and hot tub, he ingested a plastic bag and fell ill. Captured by the California State Department of Fish and Game, the old, toothless bear quickly grew accustomed to the people caring for him. He couldn't be released to the wild, so Samson was sentenced to death.

Outraged Monrovians united and Samson became an international celebrity for his stay of execution. Forest DeSpain, Director of the Orange County Zoo, sought contributions from people worldwide to create an enclosure complete with hot tub. Samson lived there until his death of old age on May 14, 2001.

Samson bears are everywhere. Rummaging around in the files of the Heritage Room, an article leaped out to solve a long-time question. There is an adorable stuffed bear on one of the shelves with a green scarf sporting the name Samson and Monrovia's City Seal on it. Well, everyone who's anyone knows about Samson the Hot Tub Bear, but what was the stuffed bear all about? Turns out, it was part of the 2001 Samson Monument Committee's fundraising effort for a life sized wood carving of Samson near the Nature Center in Canyon Park. At the time of the fundraiser, $50 or over got you a coin and the stuffed bear. We wouldn't let go of our bear for ANY price!

For information on the dedication of the statue in Samson's honor, go to

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