Sam, the "People" Steer

Just four years ago this month, a small baby steer arrived at the Houston Zoo. His name was Sam – Sam Houston to be exact. At about the same time, a wide-eyed new zookeeper named Emma started in the John P. McGovern Children’s Zoo.

Sam Houston the steer, as a baby, right when he got to the Houston Zoo
Sam Houston the steer, as a baby, right when he got to the Houston Zoo

Emma was sitting in a meeting one day when one of her supervisors asked, “Does anyone want to train Sam?” Emma, not having any training experience, was eager to take on her first challenge, so she raised her hand. From then on, Emma and Sam were learning from each other.

When Sam first got to the Zoo, he, like all the other animals, spent 30 days in what we call “quarantine” – it’s an area separate from the other animals where residents get their vet checkups and we make sure they are healthy enough to enter the Zoo.

Sam was pretty skittish at first, but Emma and the other keepers worked tirelessly with him during those first 30 days to get him comfortable with a halter and lead using food, toys, love, and affection. At the end of his quarantine, Sam was proudly walked over to his new home in the Children’s Zoo on that halter and lead, with no issues at all. From then on, Sam was what you would call a “people” steer.

It's pretty obvious that Sam likes people!
It’s pretty obvious that Sam likes people!

While Sam enjoyed Zoo guests and especially loved his frequent walks with Emma and the other keepers behind-the-scenes, he also had another friend at the Zoo: Zamir the zebu.

Zamir the zebu as a baby - he's a lot bigger now!
Zamir the zebu as a baby – he’s a lot bigger now!

“Zamir and Sam were best buds. When we went on a walk with Sam and returned back to the yard, Zamir would moo at Sam, and then Sam would moo back at Zamir,” said Emma. They would also play and give each other baths.

Over the past year or so, it became apparent that Sam was getting a little too big to stay at the Zoo. He grew and he grew and he grew until he was over 1,250 pounds! While Sam still enjoyed his frequent mud baths (his favorite) and walks behind-the-scenes, it was time to find a new home for him that gave him more space to stretch out.

At about the same time we were trying to find a new home for Sam, an incredible place in the hill country called Camp For All was looking for a steer.

Started in 1993 just outside of Brenham, Camp For All hosts campers with cancer, autism, muscular dystrophy, epilepsy, severe burns, sickle cell, cerebral palsy, veterans with post-war challenges, and so much more. Most of the campers come from the greater Houston area and southeast Texas.

The camp is barrier-free, which means that campers can participate in things like archery, aquatics, ropes courses, horseback riding, and dozens of other fun activities, and those activities are specially designed to make sure each camper can reach their individual potential and have lots of fun in the process. There is also a Small Animal Farm where campers can learn about and enjoy their favorite barnyard animals, and it had been a while since Camp For All had a steer there.

Because Camp For All is such a special place for all kinds of campers, they couldn’t just bring in any steer. This steer had to be a “people” steer.
Kelly, the Equestrian Supervisor at Camp For All, came to the Zoo to put Sam to the test and make sure he’d be good with the campers. Sure enough, Sam passed with flying colors. It was time for Sam to head to his new home.

There were plenty of tears shed as Sam’s trailer headed out of the Zoo, particularly by his trainer Emma, but Sam didn’t seem to mind – he had more alfalfa than he’d ever seen in his life to keep him company until he got to his destination!

Now that Sam is at Camp For All, he’s stepping into his new role seamlessly.

Sam in his new home at Camp For All, just in time for the holidays
Sam in his new home at Camp For All, just in time for the holidays

“With Sam Houston’s big personality, he is going to fit right in with our very hands-on barnyard program where our campers will brush, pet and adore the big guy. He has made friends with all the barnyard pals, and he enjoys the pasture life as well as his people time,” says Kelly. “We love him.”



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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam. Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years.

The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/
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This morning, we humanely euthanized our male, 20-year-old jaguar, Kan Balam.  Due to the tremendous care provided to him by his keepers and our veterinary team, Kan Balam lived well beyond his expected lifespan. Jaguars expected lifespan in the wild is between 12-15 years. 
 
The carnivore staff and veterinary team made the decision after his quality of life began to decline. Quality care and continuous advances in veterinary medicine extends animals’ lives longer than ever, with most felines in human care living well beyond previous generations. Because of this, all cats, including domestic house cats and jaguars, often spend a significant phase of their lives as older animals, and are at a higher risk for geriatric complications.

Read more about Kan B, and the love his keepers had for him on our blog: https://www.houstonzoo.org/blog/mourning-loss-geriatric-jaguar-kan-balam/

 

Comment on Facebook

Soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur; happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr #RIP #bigbangtheory

I know he lived a lot longer due to the excellent care he got at the Zoo.

This was my daughters favorite critter at the Zoo. We always went to say hello to him before anyone else whenever we went. When she was 7 years old we sent a post out to out neighborhood on Halloween saying Paisley was asking for pocket change donations in lieu of candy for Halloween and all amounts would be donated to Kan thru the zoo. She raised over $40 in coins! I still have the letter from the zoo thanking her for her donation. He was a sweet boy and will be missed. 😔

I saw him limping about 2 weekends ago. The first time we walked by he was fine. When we walked by on the way out he was limping and moaning pretty loudly. I wondered what happened but I figured his keeper already knew or would find out shortly. Super Sad. He was always a lively one.

Dunno if the Zoo staff considered him a pet but he was certainly a family member, and because of that i offer this: RainbowBridge Author Unknown Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable. All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind. They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster. You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart. Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

Thank you Houston Zoo for taking such good care of him and all the animals! I've been going to this zoo since I was little bitty. I always enjoy it.

Is this the one that had the limp?

Jaguars are one of my favorite and he seems like a sweet boy. I'm so sad but I'm happy he can be painless and be free now. RIP❤️

Aww. When interning in the carnivore dept he was one of my faves. So smart! Ashley remember when Angie was teaching him to do the moonwalk after Michael Jackson passed?

Beautiful jaguar ....so grateful for the Houston Zoo keepers and veterinary team that gave their time and efforts to share this awesome jaguar with us for so many years.

Thank you for doing what was right and kind for Kan Balam even though it was hard and painful for you. That’s true love for an animal. ❤️

Run free in the heavens, your limp is no more. Prayers for all his caretakers at the Houston Zoo

What a great long life he lived because of his excellent care at the zoo Thoughts go out to his keepers and the entire Houston Zoo staff

Sending love to the keepers that are broken hearted right now. And thank you for all the care you’ve given.

Thinking of you all. What an amazing life he had thanks to the dedication of the zoo staff! ❤️

RIP Kan Balam. You have given the visitors so much pleasure just watching you over these years. You were taken care of by top notch professional handlers, etc.

Thank you to you and your staff for the years of quality care given this magnificant creature.

I'm so sorry for your loss. Thanks for taking such great care of him so he was able to live a long life. My thoughts are with his keepers and all who adored him. <3

I am soo sorry for the loss of this handsome fella Kan Balam. May he rest in peace and run free or any pain over the rainbow bridge.. My heart and prayers go out to each and every one of the staff at the Zoo.

Aww, so very sorry for your loss, Houston. Condolences to his keepers and all who loved him. ((((Lorie Fortner)))) He surely lived a long life with the great care he received at Houston.

Katie Rose Buckley-Jones I won’t ever forget the time you asked him to bring something and he ripped off a piece of cardboard and tried to hand it to you ❤️ thank you for introducing me to him. Sending you guys many hugs

He was well-cared for and most of all well-loved. My heartfelt condolences to those missing Kan B as well as me. What an amazing ambassador for his kind. What a beautiful old gentleman. Thank you for loving him into old age and giving him peace.

So sorry to the keeping staff for your loss i cant imagine how youre feeling :( his old age is a testimony to the amazing care he received

I will miss him. The last time I saw him he looked tired, and it appeared his foot was bothering him.

Sad to hear of this. Thanks for taking such good and compassionate care for him and the other animals.

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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: I'm still using this.
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Social Media Guy to Sea Lion Keeper: Can you send me a pic of you working with the sea lions in this chilly weather?

Sea Lion Keeper: Sure... (sends picture next to sea lion statue)

SMG: Im still using this.

 

Comment on Facebook

Are there some zoo animals that enjoy this weather?

SMG is another reason why Houston Zoo is the best Zoo!

Happy New Year “sea lion keeper “ 💖💖

More snow for TJ and Max ❤️ lucky them!

Are we positive that’s the statue rather than it really just being that cold? 😛

That’s my best friend Sophie for ya! 😂

Brrrrr

Omg the Zoo is so awesome 😂😂😂 Alana Berry

Omg be warm sweetoe

Haha!! Good one!

Sweetie 💞

Ashley Jucker 😂

Mike DePope

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We've heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing? ... See MoreSee Less

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Weve heard of stalagmites but is stalagmice a thing?

 

Comment on Facebook

Ok, it took me a minute to get this. I was literally zooming in to try to find the mouse. 🤦🏻‍♀️🙄😂

Cindy Christina Angela Ramirez see I told y’all! Lol

Andrew Kaufmann Look its Richard Jr! 😂

“Baby it’s cold outside!”

Wow ... good photo shot ... show the world that you need to protect your pipe ... if not, freezing water will expand the pipe and crack the pipe !!!

I fell for the mouse thing too..

My gutters had glaciers in them!

That's nothing! Talk to keepers from the northern states or Canada!

i was honestly looking for a mouse lol

Wow,that is so neat!

Annecia Wesley but where is the ice bacon? Lol

Johnnie R. Summerlin, cool, see the "stalagm ice"?

Two words. Pipe insulation.

That’s awesome!

Ana Rivers Smith cool!

Cortez

Ashley Nguyen

Pauline Ervin

Denise Daigre

Vicente Gonzalez

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