High Marks

The Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat at Baylor University has been accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA), the international accrediting organization for the best zoos and aquariums. Baylor is the first university in the world to receive this designation and joins the Santa Fe College Teaching Zoo as the only AZA-accredited zoos on higher education campuses.

Bear Habitat patch

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 — joins the ranks of more than 240 of the most reputable zoos and aquariums in the world.

“Baylor Bear Habitat is the first university mascot facility to achieve the demanding, gold standard AZA accreditation,” AZA President and CEO Dan Ashe said. “I’ve observed dozens of accreditation hearings and was impressed at the broad acclimation from commission members. The Baylor team did their homework and passed with flying colors. We are excited to welcome you to the AZA community.”

Currently housing two American black bears — Judge Joy, 20, and Judge Lady, 19 — the Baylor Bear Habitat has invested heavily in offering world-class care to the live mascots. Dakota Farquhar-Caddell is associate director of student activities and the Robert L. Reid Director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce.

“Our newly accredited status with AZA is a testament to the gold standard of care we’re committed to providing black bears here on Baylor’s campus,”  Farquhar-Caddell said. 

With guiding pillars of stewardship, education and conservation, the Bear Habitat has established specific conservation plans and involvement in conservation programs, taking the next step forward in promoting resource conservation.