New Bear Brings 'Joy' to Campus
Drivers from California to Texas over Memorial Day Weekend might have had to look twice at the toddler peeking out the back window of a pickup truck.
A closer look would bring a glimpse of Baylor University's new bear cub mascot, Judge Joy Reynolds, named after the wife of President Emeritus Herbert H. Reynolds.
Baylor Chamber of Commerce bear trainers officially introduced Joy to the Baylor community on June 18. After an earlier meeting with her namesake, the cinnamon-colored bear made the trip to Pat Neff Hall to meet with Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr.
Sloan, who has some interesting stories to tell about earlier meetings with the rambunctious cubs, came prepared to meet Joy with three bottles of special formula. Curling up like an infant in the president's arms, the sixth-month-old bear drained the bottles in a matter of minutes.
"For her size (30 pounds) and age she's really pretty gentle," Sloan said. "She seems to really like people and she's soft and cuddly."
An Oregon Native
Joy was born on Jan. 27 at a private ranch in Oregon. She weighs 30 pounds (as of June 18) and will probably double her size by Sept. 8, which just happens to be the first Baylor football game of the season at Floyd Casey Stadium. Plans are to have her visit football workouts in August so she can get used to the players and the noise before learning to lead the team from the tunnel to the sidelines.
When Joy reaches adulthood in three to four years, she will weigh as much as a Baylor offensive lineman - between 250 and 350 pounds.
To nurture her growth, bear trainer Tyler Sellers, bear coordinator Ryan Fitzhugh and other bear committee members feed Joy three bottles of formula four times a day, as well as a bear chow mush mixed with honey. When she's not eating but needs comfort, Joy gladly suckles on her trainers' fingers.
"Next month we'll have her start solid food," Sellers said. "Her teeth will be coming in and her jaws will be much stronger."
Since she is considered a young bear, Joy won't begin her mascot training until later this summer. Sellers said professional bear trainer Scott Handley of California will return to the Baylor campus to help trainers teach Joy "natural" behaviors.
"Our priority is to keep training as natural and simple as possible," Sellers said. "She'll probably learn 'Sic 'em,' sit up and stand up, which are things bears do naturally, like reaching up and grabbing berries off of trees."
Making the Adjustment
Joy lives temporarily at Sellers and Fitzhugh's Waco apartment, which they "bear-proofed" prior to her arrival. Joy gets plenty of play time with her trainers at home, but she also is given many opportunities for social interaction on the Baylor campus. Being comfortable around people is a must for a mascot.
"I'm trying to keep her in contact with as many people as possible," said Sellers, as he and other trainers took Joy on short walk from Pat Neff to the Steve Hudson Memorial Bear Plaza. "Over the past few weeks she's become more personable and she loves being with people."
Eventually the cub's home will be at the plaza, alongside Chance, Baylor's two-year-old mascot who is named after Herbert Reynolds. Joy and Chance have both seen and acknowledged each other, but they won't be put together any time soon. Chance outweighs the cub by more than 200 pounds.
After an initial adjustment period, Sellers believes Joy will get along just fine.
"She grew up with other cubs, big bears and dogs (in Oregon) so she's used to other animals," he said.
"Billy" Heads to California
Another bear making an adjustment is Judge Bill "Billy" Boyd, Baylor's 14-year-old, 500-pound North American black bear mascot. In May, Billy made the move to his new home, Handley's natural habitat ranch north of Los Angeles.
"He's getting used to his new surroundings, which will be of great benefit to him," said Matt Green, who has served as Billy's trainer for the past year-and-a-half. "I was sad to see him go because of the bond we had formed, but I'll visit him again at the end of summer to see how he's doing."
Although in good health, Billy's advancing age led to the decision to retire him.
"This is such a good opportunity for Billy to be able live out the remainder of his life in a 2 1/2 acre natural setting that he'll have to himself," said Sellers, who added that North American black bears can live up to 25 years in captivity. "Billy has been a wonderful bear and a symbol of Baylor and of the bear program. We and the entire Baylor community certainly will miss him."
A Perfect Name
As Billy prepared for retirement, bear trainers were anticipating the new mascot's arrival - and the name she would eventually be given. Knowing they would have a female bear, chamber members said Mrs. Reynolds' name was at the top of the list for the new cub.
"She's meant so much to Baylor over the years, and she and Dr. Reynolds have done so much for Baylor and for Chamber that there was no hesitation," Sellers said.
The naming honor also set well with the president.
"The name 'Joy' is a great name," said Dr. Sloan. "Then adding to that by naming the cub after Mrs. Reynolds makes it even more special.
"I appreciate the students deciding to do that because it's really appropriate."
For now, Joy will take her daily walks to adjust to her new home and to the Baylor students and campus visitors she encounters daily. One look, Sellers said, is all it takes for people to instantly love the little cub. It happened to him the day he first saw her and brought her to Baylor in the cab of a pickup truck.
"She's adorable," he said. "Her personality is really working out well, and I believe that Joy will be a great mascot."