By Sarah Pinkerton | Staff Writer
The Baylor Chamber of Commerce has been in charge of taking care of the live Baylor bear mascots for around 80 years, and this doesn’t end when the Baylor population heads home for Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.
Chamber students are put on a rotation for returning to campus to feed and take care of Lady and Joy throughout the holiday season.
Chamber has served the main role of bear maintenance and training since the early 1940s, and Ingram senior Bailey Havis currently serves as a lead trainer.
Havis said at least two people are required to stay on campus during the holiday season to assist with the bears at all times.
“We just pick and choose the dates that we get to go home or that we get to spend time with our family,” Havis said. “And just, kind of, figure out what is most important to each of us and just make sure there’s always two people here.”
In addition to Havis, there are currently three feeders and three staff members.
“The feeders … aren’t necessarily required,” Havis said. “So it’ll for sure be the three staff members and then me and then [the feeders] are more than welcome to come whenever, they’re just not required to.”
Havis first joined Chamber in the fall of 2018 and immediately got involved with the bears.
After working as a trainer for a few months and being a part of the general committee, Havis was appointed as a lead trainer last March.
“Typically, there’s always one lead trainer at every feeding,” Havis said. “There’ll be one staff member or one lead at every feeding for sure. Usually a combination of both.”
Havis said she will most likely be in Waco for most of the holiday season.
“Usually, you’ll get to go home for a couple of days, depending on where you live rather than having to drive back and forth pretty regularly,” Havis said.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell, associate director of Student Activities, and Robert Reid, director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, said while campus remains quiet as the Baylor population leaves, feeding and enrichment remains the same for the bears.
“They’re still here on campus and everywhere else is quiet for at least two feeding days, morning and evening and usually enrichment during the middle of the day,” Farquhar-Caddell said. “The different toys and treats they get in the middle of the day and then habitat cleaning and all that sort of thing is still part of the day.”
Havis said the bears are fed once in the morning and once at night and are given more opportunities for special enrichment during the breaks.
“We usually do weekly trainings but with so few people here, it’ll probably just be on-campus training and we’ll try to stick to that as well,” Havis said.
Farquhar-Caddell said that on Christmas day, they serve the bears Christmas breakfast.
“We have people stopping by the habitat,” he said. “They’ll stop by the habitat, even on Christmas day, so it’s really important that we get the bears out and make sure they’re cared for every single day of the year.”
Farquhar-Caddell said there are even some special additions to their diet during this time.
“If anything, on Thanksgiving and Christmas, they get extra treats,” Farquhar-Caddell said. “They get presents, and I think they’re going to get a little Thanksgiving feast … On Christmas, they get presents under the Christmas tree and so they have professional projects planned.”