Bear Habitat Temporarily Closes to Visitors

March 30, 2020
Joy and Lady

Joy (foreground) and Lady at the Bill and Eva Williams Habitat on the Baylor campus.

Media Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media and Public Relations, 254-709-5959
Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMedia

WACO, Texas (March 30, 2020) – In response to the City of Waco’s call for shelter in place, Baylor University has temporarily closed the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat, a Class C Zoo, to visitors. Out of an abundance of caution, the facility will remain closed until group gatherings are deemed safe to resume.

This closure not only ensures the safest environment for visitors, the caretakers and the bears, it also allows the University to complete important updates to the Bear Habitat:

  • Updated signage with new information, additional educational content and new branding will replace dated signage with information about the University’s two American black bears, Joy and Lady.
  • Landscaping will be refreshed to make the habitat more comfortable for visitors and our bears.
  • Enhancements to the habitat interior will be made to increase meal preparation and work space, additional sanitization options and increased food and enrichment storage.
  • The trailer used to transport the bears to their offsite enrichment facility and regular visits to the veterinarian will receive mechanical updates, and it and a new truck used by the Habitat program will receive a new look that reflects the Baylor spirit and commitment to care for the beloved bears.

Earlier this month, and prior to the city’s shelter-in-place order, the Baylor Bear Habitat extended an invitation to any member of the Baylor Family to request a message from Joy and Lady.

In response to thousands of requests for these greetings, the caretakers shared personalized postcards, FaceTime calls and individually recorded video messages to more than 4,000 members of the Baylor Family across the country. This project provided encouragement to the recipients and enhanced enrichment opportunities for the bears.

To learn more about Judge Joy and Judge Lady and the progression of the habitat renovations, follow their social media channels @baylorbearhabitat on Instagram and Facebook and @bubearhabitat on Twitter.

Throughout the renovation, the student caretakers of Joy and Lady will continue to offer uninterrupted support and care for their daily needs. Renovations are expected to be complete by May 1.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked research institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 18,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating University in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 90 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.