Samson is very devoted to his zoo friends Benny, Bridget, Nigel, Larry, and son, Ryan. Samson is kind and loving and enjoys telling Ryan stories about the wild, though none of them were actually true. Samson was born in the circus as a cub. He was very timid back then and was unable to roar, much like his son. After failing to roar at a mechanical wildebeest, Samson's Father told him that a wild lion could roar before allowing Samson to be shipped to the New York Zoo. This proves that Samson was not from the wild, which he kept secret from everyone except Benny. However, he eventually reveals this to the others and Ryan during the film's climax. At one point, Samson gets pushed off a cliff by Kazar's wildebeest henchmen, but he survives the fall and eventually finds Ryan with help from two chameleons named Cloak and Camo. With some motivation from his son, Samson digs deep down and uses his mighty roar to defeat Kazar, the leader of the wildebeests. He then rescues Ryan, and all the animals (including Kazar's former minions) head home on a boat that Samson had previously hijacked.
Apparently, and according to some concept arts, the original name for the character was Alexander, but the name was already used and shortened as "Alex" for the lion protagonist of DreamWorks Animation's Madagascar franchise.