Samson at Monrovia High School

Samson the Hot Tub Bear

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Wondering why we have painted bear statues throughout Monrovia?

If you've walked down Myrtle Avenue, visited the Library, or hiked up to the Nature Center, you're bound to have spotted Samson the Bear.

Living in the foothills provides residents an opportunity to experience the beauty of nature - and close encounters with wildlife (See our tips for Living with Wildlife).  

In the 1990s, a particularly bold, 500-pound California black bear made himself at home in Monrovia, coming down from the foothills to grab a bite to eat from a trash can or fruit tree (avocados were his favorite). He gained fame not for his culinary endeavors, but rather for his love of jumping into hot tubs to relax after a hard day's forage. 

Samson the Bear quickly became the talk of the town, regularly coming down from the mountains to visit. In 1994, Samson became ill and was set to be euthanized.

Word quickly spread about the plight of Samson - and the media attention grew so large that word reached Governor Pete Wilson, who ordered the Department of Fish and Wildlife to give Samson a stay of execution. Samson the Hot Tub Bear was going to live! 

Overjoyed with the news, citizens of Monrovia, the San Gabriel Valley, and the Orange County Zoo raised $125,000 to build a special habitat for Samson. Samson lived out the remainder of his life at the zoo, eating until his heart's content and swimming in a special pool added with him in mind.

In 2000, the City erected a statue of Samson, which is located in front of the Canyon Park Nature Center. 

For the City's 125th Anniversary, multiple Samson the Bear statues - and one "Delilah" - were sponsored and painted by the Art in Public Places Committee, local businesses, and Mount Sierra College, and placed around town to celebrate Samson's legacy.

Can you spot them all?

Samson the Bear

Updated on 06/12/2019 8:18 AM