By Vivian Roach | Staff Writer
The Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat announced on Instagram Sunday that it would be offering greeting cards, video messages and live video calls with Lady and Joy to anyone who fills out a request form on their website.
The comment section of the post was full of love and gratitude towards the bears and their keepers.
Hideaway junior Corban Sorrells, senior caregiver of the Baylor Bear Habitat, said the service will offer a lot of benefits to the community.
“This opportunity is allowing students and people from across the globe to interact with Joy and Lady from the comfort and safety of their homes,” Sorrells said. “Some of these folks have been quarantined or isolated for days or even weeks. Some of the requests are from folks who are already fighting serious health concerns, some have had events like birthdays and weddings cancelled and some are just in need of a pick-me-up message. We hope sending messages to those who need them lifts spirits and reminds us of our connectedness with each other and with God’s creation.”
Sorrells said anyone who requests a video call from the bears will set up a time window to receive the call after providing a mobile phone number able to make FaceTime calls.
“They’ll have a few minutes to see the bears up close, ask questions and hear some words of encouragement from the student caregivers,” Sorrells said.
San Diego sophomore Erin Lynes said it has been hard trying to make plans to go home amidst these uncertain times.
“The bear’s cards and encouragement videos have definitely been such an uplifting and comforting sense of joy in this time. My friends and I love the support that Baylor has been giving us through these little acts of kindness,” Lynes said.
The habitat will continue to stay open daily to visitors and throughout the extended spring break. The status of the bears is indicated on their Instagram page as “inside” or “outside,” weather permitting.
However, the habitat has cancelled all scheduled group tours or gatherings at the habitat until further notice to comply with social distancing techniques in order to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
Robert L. Reid, director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, and Dakota Farquhar-Caddell, associate director of Student Activities, said the student caregivers are following all CDC guidelines for daily management of the bears. There have been no recorded cases of animals contracting COVID-19.