Baylor Bear Habitat Plans Graduation Party for Judge Lady

On May 2, members of the Baylor Family – past and present – invited to celebrate one of the University’s longest-tenured live mascots

April 19, 2023
Baylor Bear mascot Judge Sue "Lady" Sloan

Lady, Baylor University's American Black Bear mascot, enjoys a moment in the sun at her off-campus enrichment facility. (Matthew Minard/Baylor University)

Contact: Lori Fogleman, Baylor University Media & Public Relations, 254-709-5959
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WACO, Texas (April 19, 2023) – Baylor University is inviting students, alumni and all associated with the Baylor Family to join in celebrating the graduation of the University’s beloved American black bear, Lady, as she moves from the campus habitat to a private, auxiliary facility fully maintained by her Baylor Bear Habitat caregivers, staff and veterinary team.

The graduation party is set for May 2 as a come-and-go event throughout the day. Guests are encouraged to visit the Bear Habitat for photo opportunities around the facility and limited-edition commemorative giveaways. Baylor seniors in the graduating Class of 2023 are encouraged to stop by during the celebration and sign their name on Lady’s graduation banner, which will be hung inside the Habitat over commencement weekend to celebrate their collective achievements.

The University is currently in the process of evaluating next steps, with the intention of welcoming new bear cubs into the Baylor Family – carefully finding the perfect fit for cubs that are in need of a home and would thrive at Baylor where daily enrichment and activities will place the new cubs in close proximity to their human caregivers and visitors. Updates and announcements will be shared as the evaluation and discernment period progresses.

Lady, 21, whose formal name is Judge Sue “Lady” Sloan, currently resides in the heart of Baylor’s campus in the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat, accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. With its AZA accreditation, Baylor became the first university in the world to receive this gold standard designation among the most respected and reputable zoological facilities worldwide. The Habitat holds additional licensing and regulatory oversight from the United States Department of Agriculture.

Construction of Lady’s new auxiliary facility is rapidly progressing and nearing completion. Plans are for Lady to be fully moved into her permanent, private living quarters by midsummer. Like her graduating human classmates, Lady has accumulated quite the cache of things during her years in on-campus housing, so it will take some time to pack up everything to make the move with her and to do some deep cleaning to make sure she gets her full security deposit back.

Lady’s new home includes native trees for shade, a new wading pool, heated flooring for cold weather and a new cooling system for the summer heat. Her care is aimed at keeping her at a healthy weight to mitigate discomfort from arthritis. She continues to receive regular enrichment and medical treatment typical for aging animals that help ensure comfort and free movement into her senior years.

After she fully moves to the auxiliary facility, Lady will not return to the public exhibit and will continue to receive the same daily enrichment and high-level care she currently receives. The Habitat team will keep the Baylor Family updated with pictures and videos through social media so Lady’s friends and family can continue to check in on her and stay updated on her activities.

This commitment to uninterrupted care for the University’s live bears for their full lifetime is unprecedented. In previous decades, bears were typically retired into the care of other facilities or organizations. Lady represents the new standard of animal husbandry and world-class care under the Bear Habitat’s guiding pillars of stewardship, education and conservation.


Baylor University is a private Christian University and a nationally ranked Research 1 institution. The University provides a vibrant campus community for more than 20,000 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 100 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 12 nationally recognized academic divisions.