Lady: The Miracle Bear
The Baylor Family has closely followed the news updating the health of Judge Lady, one of Baylor's two beloved American black bears, as she continues her recovery and rehabilitation from a successful operation to remove a cyst that developed around her spinal column. The surgery occurred in August 2020 at the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) in College Station.
Now, the Baylor Bear Habitat welcomes the public to walk through the remarkable and emotional journey of groundbreaking medical care through a short documentary film, "Lady: The Miracle Bear."
Filmed over the last year, the documentary contains interviews with the caregiver team, including current and former student caregivers, Baylor staff and administration and veterinary personnel, as well as never-before-seen footage of Lady's recovery and a behind-the-scenes look at the world-class care offered to the bears. The Baylor Bear Habitat has been an integral part of the campus community since 1917.
"We've had bears on campus for over 100 years," said Dakota Farquhar-Caddell, associate director of student activities and Robert L. Reid Director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, who supervises the team of student caregivers. "Anyone who does anything for over 100 years learns a lot along the way. I'd say from our earlier stages of caring for bears to where we are now – we are where we should be as having bears for over 100 years."
Both Lady and her biological sister, Joy, 19, reside in the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat in the heart of Baylor campus. The Habitat recently earned accreditation by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the independent, international accrediting organization for the best zoos and aquariums. Baylor University becomes the first university in the world to receive this designation and joins the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo in Gainesville, Florida, as the only AZA-accredited zoos on higher education campuses.
The Baylor Bear Habitat – maintained and staffed by a team of student caregivers within the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, trained professionals and a veterinary care team – is guided by pillars of stewardship, education and conservation.
Lady, whose formal name is Judge Sue "Lady" Sloan, was diagnosed in June 2019 with a benign cranial mediastinal mass, or thymoma, in her chest, found during a routine wellness examination with veterinarians at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences.
She underwent an innovative, noninvasive radiation treatment called TomoTherapy in August 2019 and again in December 2019 – a treatment that is believed to be the first of its kind done on a bear.
Follow-up radiograph imaging has remained encouraging, suggesting that Lady's thymoma has not expanded. A follow-up visit to the veterinarian in the fall even showed a 20% reduction in the growth's mass.
Both Joy and Lady have already surpassed the life expectancy of wild American black bears. Their signs of natural aging have continued to be managed through a unique, personalized care plan guided by a remarkable group of students and staff, informed by world-class veterinary care.