Baylor’s live mascots receive daily care, attention from bear trainers

By Jenna Welch | Broadcast Reporter

Baylor’s Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat is home to black bears Lady and Joy. These live mascots are biological sisters who come from a cinnamon-colored line of black bears and love to play together.

“They’ll actually live to double their life expectancy in the wild,” said Katy junior Audrey Chisum, bear trainer. “Joy and Lady are 16 and 17-years-old, [which] would be the cap of their life span, but since they have round-the-clock nutrition and vet care they’ll actually live into their late 20s.”

Baylor’s current mascots are named after the two first fadies of former Baylor presidents, Dr. Herbert H. Reynolds and Dr. Robert B. Sloan. During Lady and Joy’s time at Baylor, Chisum said they receive the best care possible.

The bear trainers are part of Baylor’s Chamber of Commerce and are chosen by the Baylor Administration to lead the Bear Program. These students make up the Bear Committee, which is responsible for the care and training of the bears. The students that work with Joy and Lady are trained each year by a professional bear trainer.

“I love working in the program just because I’ve bonded with two live animals I never expected to work with,” Chisum said. “They recognize our voices and they know our cars when we pull up and they react to us.”

Because Lady and Joy’s health is important, the lead trainers practice learned behaviors with them daily. Sherman senior Ben Bailey, another bear trainer, said these behaviors are different from teaching them tricks because the movements are natural and are behaviors they would have in the wild.