Long-Time Bear Mascot Heads For Retirement In California

May 11, 2001

by Lori Scott Fogleman

Judge Bill "Billy" Boyd, Baylor's University's 14-year-old, 500-pound North American black bear mascot, will be retired to a natural habitat ranch owned by California professional bear trainer Scott Handley.

The long-time bear mascot will make the trek to his new home north of Los Angeles on Monday, May 14, with Baylor Chamber of Commerce bear trainer Tyler Sellers and Bear committee members Ryan Fitzhugh and Matt Green. 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 an icon at Baylor. We and the entire Baylor community certainly will miss him."

Handley, who has been instructing Baylor bear trainers since 19--, also provides educational programs on bears, in addition to training bears for the movie industry.

Billy was named after Baylor yell leader and bear trainer Bill Boyd, who took care of the first official bear mascot "Joe College," a well-trained carnival performer acquired when the Cotton Palace Zoo closed in 1932. Since that time, Baylor has had more than 50 live bear mascots.

Baylor's current 2-year-old mascot, "Chance," will continue to live in the Steve Hudson Memorial Bear Plaza near the Bill Daniel Student Center. Plans are to have a new bear cub on campus by the fall.

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