Season 3 - Episode 329
No one knows Joy and Lady, Baylor’s beloved black bears, better than their caretakers. Dakota Farquhar-Caddell, associate director of Student Activities and the Robert Reid Director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce, oversees the Baylor Bear program and Bailey Havis, a rising senior student, is one of two lead caretakers for the bears. In this Baylor Connections, they help us get to know Joy and Lady better—their favorite foods, personalities, what it takes to care for them, Lady’s recovery from a health scare and more.
Derek Smith:Hello, and welcome to Baylor Connections a conversation series with the people shaping our future. Each week we go in depth with Baylor leaders, professors, and more discussing important topics in higher education, research and student life. I'm Derek Smith and today we are talking about the bears on the program, the bears Judge Joy and Judge Lady. And we are talking about them today with Dakota Farquhar-Caddell and Bailey Havis. Dakota serves as Associate Director of student activities and the Robert Reid Director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce. In that role he provides oversight and support to a number of university wide traditions including supervising the team of student caretakers for Baylor's famous black bears Judge Joy and Judge Lady. Bailey Havis one of two lead caretakers in the Baylor Bear Program. A rising senior psychology major from Kerrville, Texas she joined the program in 2018. Baylor has cared for life bear since 1917. This beloved tradition is made possible by the deep care provided by the Baylor Chamber of Commerce and members of the bear program and lead team who serve the health and wellbeing of Joy and Lady as they have done for proceeding generations of bears since 1940. We're going to get to go inside the bear habitat today virtually or at least to get a little mental tour of them today with Dakota and Bailey. Dakota and Bailey it's great to have you on the program. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Yeah, thanks for having us Derek. We were so excited to talk about one of Baylor's most unique traditions, what we like to call the world's most beloved black bears. And I'm extra thankful Bailey you signed on to be on this with me too. I would have to say she's one of the hardest working, earnest, caring students I know and it's not every day you get to hear from a real live college student taking care of real life bears so this will be a fun time.
Bailey Havis:Well, thanks Dakota for that kind of introduction. I'm so happy to be here as well. I could truthfully talk about Joy and Lady for hours so this is definitely going to be a treat for us as well.
Derek Smith:Let's just dive right in. Bailey let's start with you what's a typical summer day look like in the life of Lady and Joy the constants for this time of year for them?
Bailey Havis:Yeah so a typical day for Joy and Lady includes waking up to breakfast around 9:00 AM where for example this morning, they got some fresh salmon, some Greek yogurt and some fresh strawberries along with some pecans that we sprinkled throughout the yard for what we call forging enrichment. After breakfast, they might go for a swim or play with one of their floating toys in the pool. Bears actually love to sleep so we consider our bears to be champion nap takers. They could actually sleep up to 17 or 18 hours a day which we really don't want them to be doing so we schedule different activities throughout the day where they can get lots of rest time but also a lot of active time. We typically offer some specialized enrichment in the afternoons that are usually goal-based specifically trying to plan activities for them that help with their geriatric season. We give them different activities that help them ward off arthritis or other health situations that come with old age. But yeah, then if there's a scheduled educational presentation the bears will help engage with those. And then before we know it, it's already dinner time which is typically around 5:00 or 6:00 PM. And that entails a pretty similar meal as what they get for breakfast but instead of a nice fruit they get a nice little vegetable to go with that instead. So yeah.
Derek Smith:I think most people particularly in the Baylor family have seen them, most people know a little bit about them, but maybe not a lot about them. Could both of you share with us some of your favorite biographical bits of information about Lady and Joy?
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Yeah, sure. One of the most common things we get from people is, "Hey, how can we tell which one's Joy and which one's Lady?" When folks are passing by asking questions and so we'll start with that one. For those of us who get to spend many days with them we can tell by their temperament and just the way they walk. But for any other folks that are passing by and want to tell you can always tell because we say Joy sits a little lower to the ground. She is what we call our fluffier bear and she's a little shorter. While Lady's a little taller and skinnier and Lady stands about six feet tall. Joy also has this white birthmark on her chest, it's like a little white patch of fur. Most people don't know but bears can have birth marks too. And then if you ever see them doing stick 'ems what we call learned behavior Joy does a stick em with her right paw while Lady does a stick 'em with her left paw. So we like to say we didn't know this until we had Joy and Lady but apparently bears have a dominant paw too. So Lady might be left pawed who knows.
Bailey Havis:So, Judge Joy and Judge Lady were born in Bandon, Oregon and they moved here to Waco when they were just about three months old. So Joy actually turned 19 on January 27th and her little sister Lady turned 18 just a couple of days later on January 31st. So, they actually both came from a litter of two so they both have a twin brother and those two bears actually live in Oregon now. So, Judge Joy and Judge Lady are American black bears. Many people ask why they're black bears when they're typically a cinnamon or brown color. Well, they're actually a subspecies of black bear specifically that cinnamon color. So black bears can come in all colors, they can range from block to brown, red, and even white sometimes, but you can always tell that they're black bears by the shape of their snout so.
Derek Smith:We're talking about Baylor's bears Joy and Lady with Dakota Farquhar-Caddell and Bailey Havis. Bailey, you mentioned their typical day foods that you feed them. Do each of them have favorite foods or can you tell what they like more than others?
Bailey Havis:Yes, sir. For sure. So Joy really loves apricots and Lady likes them as well but we would say that her favorite is probably pineapples. So those are two of our more what we call hot baits and so we don't give them them on a regular basis just because they're super motivated by food. And so, if we give them their favorite snacks they'll be a little bit more willing to do what we ask them. So they also, the two of them both really love maraschino cherries and peanut butter so those are also two of their favorite snacks for sure. Joy isn't a big fan of green apples but Lady's just fine with them. But yeah, so it's interesting to see their favorites and it's really fun to get to know that as well.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:About a year ago we started a partnership with a nutrition class on campus and some undergraduate students who were taking a nutrition class analyzed their caloric intake every day and so they looked at their diet records for the last five years and helped us track the calories they were eating and asked some really good questions about nutritionists. And so, it was a fun collaboration where a regular student who doesn't normally get to engage with the bears was able to help us analyze their diet which is very helpful.
Derek Smith:That's really cool. What were some of the things you were looking for in that?
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Well, a lot of it is about weight management and as they age we want to make sure we are really on target with their target weight. And so, we weighed them actually once a week or once every two weeks depending on the season and adjust their diet accordingly. I would say that their diet is probably better regulated than most of ours. They get some of the freshest food and everything they get is weighed and charted to make sure that it's for their best health so we're really proud of that. Some of the nutrition students ask some really good questions they ask things like, "Why do you give them vegetables at night and fruit in the morning?" And we were like, "Well, a vegetable feels like [inaudible 00:07:59]" And they said, "Well, why don't you mix it up?" And so, they had some good ideas and had some ideas for different fruits and vegetables we hadn't tried in a while.
Derek Smith:You mentioned their weight. About how much do they weigh?
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Yeah, Bailey I think right now are they about 250 right now each?
Bailey Havis:About 260 yeah, closer to 260 but we're shooting to get that down to 250 in the summer months so.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:And like Bailey said depending on the season they have different weight goals. And so right now their at their target weight and so we'll keep on carrying that.
Derek Smith:We are visiting with Dakota Farquhar-Caddell from Baylor student activities, Associate Director of student activities and Robert Reid Director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce and Bailey Havis. Bailey is one of two lead caretakers in the Baylor Bear Program. And Dakota, we got some good news earlier this month is that Lady is doing well after a December health scare and people probably remember if they don't remember exactly what exactly she was facing. She underwent a first of its kind treatment called Tomotherapy for a benign glioma on her chest. And the latest checkup revealed that the mass hasn't grown and shouldn't cause her discomfort. So that is great news and I know a lot of people in the Baylor family were really following along and praying for her. And take us through that from your standpoint. What was it like realizing that she had a potential health issue and what have those last few months been like in getting to this point where thankfully we find out she's doing well?
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Sure. Well, that's a great question Derek. It's been a roller coaster. As we know now the rollercoaster ended well but we got that good news recently and it has been emotionally taxing for all of us. And when we first learned of this we learned it during a routine checkup. So, most of our routine checkups, we have routine checkups monthly and annually with our bears and all of them are noninvasive. In fact, all of the learned behaviors they do like sic 'ems and smiles and walk stands things like that, scratch they're all used in voluntary vet care. Which means on any typical day one of our veterinarians can come check them out and do it completely voluntary so they can check their teeth, check their movement, pulsate muscles, things like that, even inject, give them antibiotics or anything they might need voluntarily. So we're really proud of that type of voluntary vet care that they're able to have. But once every five years or so we do a really comprehensive, deep examine in which they have to be anesthetized temporarily and so we can get adequate blood work, CT scans, do the whole run the whole gamut. And so, that's when we discovered the mass it was during one of our more rare, comprehensive exams that are precautionary. And we're really glad we found it when we did because it gave her no discomfort. Lady doesn't even know she has it because we caught it early enough but it was really hard to hear that at first. And, but long story short the entire process after that was really well vetted. We moved super quickly because we wanted to make sure we gave her the care she needed. We consulted our veterinarians, we consulted our animal care training partners, our colleagues around the country. We even chatted with Mike the Tigers team from LSU to bounce some ideas back and forth with them. We had a really thorough plan moving forward to treat it and we felt really good about it. Honestly Derek, we were in the best scenario possible. I mean, we're just down the road from a university that may not be named right now... Just kidding we love our Aggies.
Derek Smith:We'll give them a shout out. We appreciate our rivals helping us out on this yeah.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:We sure do. We were down the road from them. We have the best scenario at our fingertips and we had the resources and the Baylor family that was behind us and caring for Lady. So, even though we were in the best case scenario it's still scary when you're in the middle of a health development like this. And so, I remember meeting, I was thinking back remembering, meeting the students at that habitat around 5:00 AM the first morning we were taking Lady down to College Station to get the treatment. And I just remember feeling the weight of the moment in the air knowing that this is a big day for a bear that we love really dearly. And so, we loaded her up, it's still dark outside and we wanted to get there bright and early so we could have the whole day for her to go through the procedure. And she loaded up into the transfer unit and the students drove her there and I was in the follow car behind him. I just remember being on the road to College Station. The sun was rising and Lady was in the trailer in front of us and I mean I just cried. I think looking back it might've been because we were on the way to aggie land but what I really think it was, was it was a release of a high stress [inaudible] And while we knew we were doing all the right steps and we had the best care in the world it wasn't even really about me. I just remember thinking and feeling the deep and abiding commitment and care that our whole family has for lady and it was a big moment. And while I felt confident that it would be okay it still felt heavy. And so, fast forward some we went through some great treatments. Our team in College Station was exceptional and always has been, treated exceptionally well. She came back, we got back to campus and she recovered in incredible time ahead of her schedule. I also remember the day about a week or two after the procedures she ate her first solid foods and we just rejoiced we were like, "This is great. She's back on solid food, she's feeling great, she's climbing again, she's feeling like her best self." And then I remember the irony in all of this is that the last few months have been draining for us humans. Lady has little to no sense that anything is wrong in the world which gives me a lot of solace and hope. What's really awesome about the medication and the procedure is that even the anesthesia that we had to use for her actually is a reverse anesthesia. And so, it makes it to where she doesn't even remember getting the anesthesia. She likely doesn't even remember being in College Station. What she remembered is taking a really long, deep nap, waking up, maybe having a little sore throat because of some of the tube we had to use. But other than that after a week or so she doesn't even realize anything was wrong.
Derek Smith:That's fantastic. And so, she's doing well and probably harder on you obviously. What do you think about what these bears, I think anyone who has a pet that they love knows what a member of the family they can be and I know it's a little bit different but how much of a part of the family for both of you Dakota and Bailey do these bears become?
Bailey Havis:Yeah truthfully, they are such an important part of my life right now. It's crazy to think that in such a short amount of time these two beautiful, exotic animals have taught me so much about myself and others and just the importance of caring for other people and animals and God's creation. They really truthfully mean so much to me. When I get to go home for a weekend or get to spend some time with my family in Kerrville I usually wake up in a panic like, "Oh, wait the bears." And then I always have this feeling throughout the day that I'm missing something not having them just right down the road. So, there's really no other words to put it other than they truly are just a part of our family and just a part of who we are now.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Yeah, they are, they are. And liking it to the idea of having a dog or something I mean it's not that different is that they're a bear. I have three kids at home and every day my kids ask me, "How are Joy and Lady doing and can I come with you to see them?" So I mean, they seep into all of our lives and Bailey and the team of students caring for them they're there making their Thanksgiving feast on Thanksgiving or giving them presents and stockings on Christmas morning, even scooping poop on New year's Eve. I mean, all of it they are there for. And when you share those sorts of moments with them we can't help but be attached and care for them deeply.
Derek Smith:You guys know their personalities better than obviously just about anybody. What should we know about their personalities and the way they interact with the people they see on a regular basis?
Bailey Havis:Yeah. I love this question because they really are so unique from one another. And so, most often bears actually are rather solitary animals but when they do live in a sleuth, which is a group of bears, there's usually an alpha beta relationship. So in our case, Joy is the alpha bear and Lady is the beta. So that means that Joy goes outside and comes inside first. She likes to eat first and it's not uncommon for her to naturally assert her presence throughout the day. Joy is honestly just an absolute princess. More often than not you'll see her sitting by the window or the fence in her yard posing and just sitting there and looking pretty waiting to have visitors come admire her. She's a bit of a drama queen sometimes like when it rains she doesn't like to go outside because she doesn't want to get her paws in the mud. So it takes her a few minutes to go out there and she likes to do things on her time. Whereas lady on the other hand, she's far more adventurous. She loves to climb and dig and swim and just lay around in the mud. Yeah so she's definitely are more adventurous and carefree bear whereas Lady is our more proper and delicate bear.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Yeah our students, I don't know if you know much about the Enneagram Derek but when we play a game where we try to Joy and Lady's Enneagram number. And so, any Enneagram fans out there we like to say Joy might be an Enneagram eight even though [inaudible] other people. She is definitely a force to reckon with. And some people will say, "Lady is a little more of an enigma she might be a seven, a six or a nine." We're really trying to figure that out. But then the other day they were also talking about their love languages so we like to say Lady is for sure a words of affirmation love language recipient. She loves to be told good girl if she's doing great, good climb. And Joy, what did we say Bailey? I think we said she's an acts of service or food one of those two.
Bailey Havis:For sure.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:So, they're both very different but they compliment. And just like any kind of sister pair you would think they compliment each other pretty nicely.
Bailey Havis:For sure.
Derek Smith:Well, that makes it very easy to grasp. That's really a good stuff as we visit with Dakota Farquhar-Caddell and Bailey Havis talking about Baylor's bears Joy and Lady here on Baylor Connections. And obviously getting to talk to you we have the standpoint of you on staff Dakota overseeing the students, you Bailey doing that work as a student. What goes in to preparing student workers to care for the bears? What's the training look like and what are some of the things Dakota obviously you're thinking about health and safety for the bear, health and safety for the students, health and safety for anyone who comes in contact with them so from various angles what does that look like?
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Yeah, that's a good question. Yeah safety is always our priority so we have a lot of fun getting to care for two bears but safety is always first. We're a class C zoo regulated by the USDA and we're also an active involved with AZA which is the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. And we attend that conference once a year. And so, we first lean on our experts in the field. So, I take students once a year to the AZA conference around the country and we present our own findings with our zoo colleagues about best practices for animal husbandry and engagement and in that is safety and policies. And the same thing goes for USDA, we're subject to random inspections throughout the year from the USDA inspectors to make sure our habitat is in the utmost quality both safety and the way we provide care for our bears. And that's the first level. All of our students are first aid CPR certified. They also all have their food handler license because we give them fresh meat and good food each day. So Joy and Lady their food is prepared for by people who have their food handler license. And then we also have really good partners around the whole university Derek. We have a team of administrators ranging from public safety, to PV, to our animal scientists and all across the board student life representatives that help speak into our SOP regularly. And so, Bailey can talk a little bit more about how she came into the program but Bailey's a good example. She's been around Joy and Lady since she was a new student here on campus and has learned a lot from peer mentorship. She is learning from other caretakers and students that have come before her and that's just the way we go about it. But like you said earlier safety is always most important to us.
Bailey Havis:Yeah, we have a motto in the habitat. Most people say you learn something by doing it over and over again but in the habitat it's very different. You have to learn by talking and asking questions and watching. And so, that's a key aspect of our peer mentorship inside of the program within other students. It starts from the top down. And so, I had the opportunity to learn from previous lead caretakers and then Corbin and I my fellow lead caretaker he and I just work every day to make sure that we're teaching the newer kids what we're doing and why we're doing it and how we're doing it to ensure that that safety is the utmost importance. So that way we're providing the best wellbeing that we can for Joy and Lady as well as for the students that are working in there.
Derek Smith:Bailey, are there ways that are best for you to physically interact in the sense of the way you move around them? For instance, I know when you're meeting a new dog for the first time dogs don't like say a sudden movement from someone they don't know or for you to lunge towards them. What are some ways that are best to interact with the bears just for their own comfort.
Bailey Havis:Yes, sir. So, very similar to what you mentioned about interacting with a new dog. Yeah we would never run in the habitat. You're always walking slowly and carefully and our big shovels and stuff that we carry to scoop their poop we try to hold those close to our bodies and low so it's not intimidating for them. They interact with each other a lot even inside and so when that happens we try to be even more cautious just because it's a lot going on for them. So yeah, it's definitely similar to a new dog but for sure just mostly walking very slowly and being intentional. They really like to know where your next step is going to be and so we're really intentional with we're giving them food or something like that you would never cover it before putting it in there because they are very food motivated and they like to know what's going on as much as they can.
Derek Smith:As we head into the final few moments here on the program I want to ask you to zoom back out a little bit Dakota. When you think about Joy and Lady whether they're it's Baylor family members coming back to campus and they want to go see the bears and they want to take their kids to the bears one of the first places they go on campus or school groups. What should we know about just from your sense of what Joy and Lady mean to Baylor University and to the Baylor family?
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:That's a good question. Derek I have memories from when I was a kid coming back for homecoming, I was real little and going over to visit Penland with my dad, he used to live in Penland, and eat a meal in the Penland dining hall walking over and then looking at the pit before the habitat, before the place we have now. And then, I remember coming back as a student at Baylor and being in the chamber and I was never a lead trainer like Bailey but I sure did scoop a lot of poop. And that was when Joy and Lady were just a couple of years old, three or four or five. And so, I can really relate to this idea that people all over the Baylor community it's almost like a thread that ties us together. We have our bears and we love them as our own. I like to think of we have 20 students that are on the bear program that help care for Joy and Lady each day but in reality it's a community campus wide commitment. I mean across the country we have folks even on social media who are looking out for our bears every day checking in on them asking us, "How are they doing? What are they having to eat?" And I think that means a whole lot to know that we have a whole university community caring for our animals. It's something that other zoos or conservation areas don't get. They don't get a whole rallying community to support the bears. And so, that's one thing we've had proposals at the habitat. We've had people... Joy was actually a ring bearer for someone when she was a cub. So, I mean, they have been an intricate part of people's lives for their whole life. And we have folks come back that bring their kids who they were here when Joy and Lady were cubs too and they can say to their kids like, "Look these are my bears." And so, I think it's more than just having bears on campus it's a way we get to educate and connect with the community. It's a way we get to really live out this idea that we're committed to stewarding God's creation with lots of care and joy and hope and that's one thing that maybe has always been about and this is one way we can do that so I'm grateful for it.
Derek Smith:As we close I think you've probably already answered this question both of you but I want to ask specifically one final takeaway. When you think about working with Joy and Lady what is it about them or what aspect of that role most brings a smile to your face?
Bailey Havis:Yeah man, I just love the relationship that I've been given the opportunity to create with both Joy and Lady and also just the incredible work that we do for conservation. It's truly empowering to know that our girls are advocates for all other black bears and honestly all other exotic animals in the world. And I'm just honored to be a part of something that yearns for such goodness and for giving back. And so, yeah just knowing that we're able to do something bigger and not for ourselves is just incredible and I just feel humbled every time I see them and reminded of how blessed we are.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:That's good Bailey. My office window faces the habitats and so even when I'm not at the habitat I get to look to my right and just get to watch the hundreds of people, of students, of families, of professors, of visitors, of incoming students, of school aged kids, all in between get to come and see them up close each day. And just the idea that we get the privilege of having a beautiful habitat with beautiful bears is really fun and grateful. All the students that help take care of them we have a big group chat. So throughout the day they just send pictures to each other of what the bears are doing during the day, checking in on them, what they're eating. And it's fun to be a part of that community that cares and loves for our bears so well.
Derek Smith:Well, that's fantastic. I really appreciate you all sharing that and your insights really taking us inside of allowing us to see it through your eyes and getting to know Joy and Lady a little bit better. So thank you both so much for joining us I really appreciate it.
Dakota Farquhar-Caddell:Thanks Derek. I hope to see you at the habitat soon.
Derek Smith:Will do. And thank you as well Bailey I appreciate you coming on and sharing. It's not every day we get to talk to a student bear trainer.
Bailey Havis:Oh yes sir. Thank you so much for this opportunity.
Derek Smith:Thank you. Bailey Havis a rising senior at Baylor one of two lead caretakers for Joy and Lady in the Baylor Bear Program and Dakota Farquhar-Caddell Associate Director of student activities and the Robert Reid Director of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce our guests today here on Baylor Connections. I'm Derek Smith, a reminder you can hear this and other programs online, baylor.edu/connections. Thanks for joining us here on Baylor Connections.