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Bear habitat gifts adding up

Aug. 23, 2004

By STEPHANIE FRANKS, editor in chief

Fund raising for the new Baylor bear habitat is over halfway to its target of $950,000. More than $690,000 has been committed from over 95 donors.

The lead donors this summer were Baylor alumni Bill and Eva Williams of Scottsdale, Ariz.

Kristen Feller | Lariat staff
Lady and Joy's, Baylor mascots, new habitat will be double the space they have now. The Baylor bear habitat fund raising is over halfway to its goal of $950,000. This will make a habitat which will include a waterfall, a memorial walkway, a feeder log, a digging pit and an educational center.

The bear facility will be named the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat Complex due to their generous donation.

Cathy Dunman Pleitz, the project coordinator for the bear habitat, said there are several opportunities provided for anyone who wants to help such as naming opportunities.

According to Pleitz, there are many aspects to the Baylor habitat such as the waterfall or den that will be named after donors.

The Baylor/Waco Foundation will have a bridge named after the organization for their contribution.

There will be a donor wall for anyone who contributes $1,000 or more.

Brick pavers are also offered for those who make a $500 contribution where one can put a three line inscription on the brick.

Pleitz said the campaign is primarily focused on Baylor Chamber of Commerce alumni who have a natural connections to the habitat, but "we plan on having a presence in the homecoming celebrations."

"The live mascots are a tradition that's been around for years," Pleitz said.

"We're in a transition where students now can one day bring their children to the bear habitat and say 'I was here when they built this thing'," she said. "It's preserving a tradition."

Charles Lucenay, a Longview senior and bear trainer, said he believes the fund raising is progressing nicely but he is ready to build the new habitat.

The bears' current home, the Steve Hudson Memorial Bear Plaza, was constructed in 1976.

According to Lucenay, the plaza has fallen into some disrepair.

"There are very few places that people visit on campus more than the bears," Lucenay said. "It's time to renovate that facility."