Lady’s 7 Favorite Things from Her Time Living On-Campus
Baylor Bear Habitat shares some campus living highlights from Lady, the University’s beloved live American black bear
With the recent announcement that Judge Lady, our beloved American black bear, is joining the ranks of the graduating class this May, we wanted to take the opportunity to celebrate and highlight some of the best parts of her time on campus.
Be sure and save the date for May 2, and plan to swing by the Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat for a graduation celebration from 2-4 p.m. There will be some commemorative giveaways and an opportunity to see Lady. Baylor seniors in the Class of 2023 should plan to sign their names on Lady’s graduation banner, which will hang in the Habitat throughout Commencement weekend.
Now on to some of Lady’s favorite things from her 21 years of on-campus housing life!
- Food – the fresh foods that make up the bulk of Lady’s diet are sourced through a unique partnership with Baylor’s Dining Services. Like many of her human “classmates,” Lady benefits from the extensive kitchen and food variety found in The Penland Crossroads, including fresh meats, fruits and vegetables. Each meal is prepared by a member of her caregiver team – all licensed food handlers – seven days a week and 365 days a year, including holidays. Some of her favorite meals have included chicken with fresh avocado slices and turkey with sweet potato, berries and honey. Although Lady will be making a summer move to the Bear Habitat’s auxiliary facility, rest assured that the quality and variety of her diet will stay at the same world-class level.
- Holidays and Homecoming – from its unique position in the heart of campus, the Bill & Eva Williams Bear Habitat provides a front row seat to the magic of holidays and the cherished traditions surrounding Homecoming at Baylor. Whether it’s costumed trick-or-treaters at Halloween, the communitywide celebration of Christmas on 5th or the prime views of the finish line for the Baylor Homecoming parade, the Bear Habitat is always a fixture of campus life in Waco.
- Lawn care – ever wonder how the on-campus Bear Habitat yard stays so clean and refreshed? In addition to the daily yard maintenance from her student caregivers, the same dedicated lawn crew that maintains the campus landscaping also regularly services both yards inside the Habitat and the nearby flower beds that contribute to the natural-habitat aesthetic.
- Cleaning – speaking of aesthetics, the Habitat receives a deep clean about every two weeks – undoubtedly far more than your average on-campus student room – including the meticulous detail of a toothbrush scrub in the crevices of Lady’s wading pool as part of the cleaning and maintenance routine carried out by the student caregiver team.
- Teaching moments – whether it’s the thousands of students on school trips who file by the Habitat to learn more and interact with the bears, or a unique partnership with the Waco-McLennan County Library system to promote literacy and education efforts, the bears and the Bear Habitat have always provided a welcoming space for friends and a place for learning more about the natural world and our beloved American black bear program.
- Football season – perhaps the one stage that has brought the most visibility to Lady and the Baylor Bear Habitat, Lady’s Pick ‘Em has become a national sensation each football season. National broadcasts including ESPN’s College GameDay and FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff have featured Lady and her special gameday enrichments, usually consisting of consuming or tearing into some food that represents whoever the Baylor football team is facing that week. From longhorn-shaped beef pâté or her all-time favorite, frog legs, Lady’s game day picks – always backing Baylor, of course – delighted her friends and fans across the country to add to the excitement of Saturdays in the fall.
- Campus squirrels – famous or infamous, depending on which side of a hurled acorn you’re on, Baylor’s campus squirrel population is steeped in its own lore and history. From guest starring in anime form in a David Crowder*Band music video to the occasional parody account on social media, there’s no shortage of personality among the smaller furry residents that call campus home, including a well-known group of brave squirrels who frequent the Baylor Bear Habitat. Conditioned to the point of showing up like clockwork around feeding time, these squirrels take advantage of the short window between Lady’s caregivers taking her food bowls out into the yard and Lady making her way out to eat, for a brief run at the buffet line before their much larger host gets within paw’s reach. Rest assured, Lady’s new auxiliary facility is surrounded by woods and grasslands and we suspect it won’t take long for the neighborhood squirrels, birds and other woodland creatures to learn Lady’s feeding routine, as well.
Graduation is a time of transition, and we’ll miss seeing all our graduates on campus, but none more than Lady. Her calm presence and her left-pawed Sic ’Ems have become a mainstay of campus life. As she moves to her new private habitat, rest assured our AZA-accredited, high standard of care for her health and wellbeing will continue uninterrupted throughout her life.
We are looking forward to learning and sharing more in the near future as we continue to evaluate next steps and learn a whole new set of favorite things about the next generation of bears at the Baylor Bear Habitat.