Samson, first elephant born at Md. Zoo in Baltimore, turns 2

Zoo visitors gather round as 1,938-pound Samson celebrates turning 2 with cake

March 21, 2010|By Edward Gunts | ed.gunts@baltsun.com

Carolin Salter missed Samson the Elephant's first birthday celebration last March, but she wasn't about to skip the party this year.

So the Ellicott City resident rounded up her two nieces and a nephew and her parents on Saturday and found a prime spot to take in the festivities at the Maryland Zoo in Baltimore.

"We heard about it on the radio," Salter explained. "It's not every day that you get to attend an elephant's birthday party."

One of Salter's nieces, 3-year-old Charlotte, had just celebrated her own birthday, said her grandfather, Charles.

"We thought it would be a good idea to see an elephant's birthday," he said. "We signed the birthday card to Samson and saw the elephants eat cake. It was fun."

The Salters were among several thousand people who went to the zoo to celebrate Samson's second birthday - or the first day of spring.

Visitors wrote chalk greetings to Samson on the pavement and sampled cakes donated by Charm City Cakes, which also made a decorated three-layer cake with an elephant figurine made of icing on top.

Then everyone gathered at the "Elephant Overlook" to watch as zoo volunteers and staffers presented specially made cakes to Samson, his mother, Felix, and two other female elephants, Anna and Dolly.

According to Jane Ballentine, the zoo's director of public relations and marketing, Samson is the first elephant ever born at the 134-year-old zoo. His actual birthday was Friday.

Ballentine said the zoo had such a good response to Samson's first birthday party last year that "it just made sense to keep celebrating," she said.

She said Samson gets along well with his mother, 25, and the two older females, who have each been at the zoo for more than 30 years. "The elephants have formed a nice herd," she said.

In honor of Samson's birthday, zoo volunteers created four pachyderm-friendly cakes, one for each elephant. They were made with pizza crust on the bottom and a cornmeal batter, frosted with mashed and sweet potatoes and topped with orange slices, carrots, apples, grapes and raisins. They were given to the elephants shortly before noon, and were gone in a matter of minutes.

Ballentine said Samson weighed 1,938 pounds as of Saturday morning and may grow to weigh as much as 20,000 pounds. Unlike female elephants, she said, "male elephants never stop growing. He will grow all his life."

The staff has become very fond of Samson, she said. "He's our special little guy. He's hard to resist."

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