WACO, Texas (FOX 44)– After 21 years of being a part of the Baylor family, mascot Judge “Joy” Reynolds passed away.
Dr. Kevin Jackson, Vice President for Student Life at Baylor shares with us what legacy Joy leaves at the campus.
“She lived a full and vibrant life, and we will cherish those experiences and we feel fortunate that we’ll be able to work with lady who is still part of our bear program,” says Dr. Kevin Jackson, Vice President for Student Life at Baylor.
Joy’s sister Lady who is 20 years old, will continue to receive the world-class supervision and protection of her caregivers in the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat.
In addition, for Lady’s continued care as she ages into retirement, the University is moving forward on the construction of a permanent retirement facility, similar to their on-campus housing, at the Bears’ off-campus enrichment area.
“We will look to the future. And that future we believe, will be to begin to transition to rescue cups into our program at the appropriate time,” says Dr. Jackson.
Before Joy’s passing she had underlying health conditions and was going back and forth to the vet.
“And in the end, as we began to look at the different options to help her, it was apparent as we work with our best team that we were not going to be able to have medical intervention. To the point with the help her,” says Dr. Jackson.
Joy most definitely left her mark on campus. Joy was born Jan. 27, 2001, at West Coast Game Park in Bandon, Oregon. From the moment she arrived on the Baylor campus as a rambunctious four-month-old cub, Joy captured the hearts of Baylor students, alumni, faculty and staff and more than 250,000 campus visitors a year.
Joy loved the visits from schoolchildren from throughout Central Texas and generations of families, students and alumni, who shared in the thrill of meeting Joy and Lady and learning about the Bears’ unique mission of stewardship, education and conservation.
“What I love most is seeing our students come out and just have conversation with them and get them to do the Sic ‘Em and and just stand out here and really watch and interact with our live mascot program,” says Dr. Jackson.
Speaking of Sic ’em, Joy adored her Baylor Bears, eventually retiring with her sister from the football sidelines before the 2010 season. However, she and Lady continued to offer their unwavering support for all of Baylor’s teams through their growing social media presence on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, which included their popular game-day picks (always Baylor!), and they faithfully listened to every Baylor game on the radio. Joy and her sister also made numerous national TV appearances on ESPN, FOX Sports, CBS and most recently on “Jeopardy!” as a question (correctly answered!) in an April episode of the popular game show.
And for some students that’s what attracted them to attend Baylor University.
“My first time visiting, after the tour they said there are bears here. I’m like, oh my. And we went out and they’re like, yeah, and. They can say, Sic ‘Em too. So we literally just did Sic ‘Em to the bear and it’s they did it back. And I was like, oh my goodness. Like, I have to go here now,” says Baylor student Emma Lindahl.
“On my first tour here I was like, there’s no way, because most schools, don’t have like a live mascot or their own sanctuary for the Bears. So it’s definitely really sweet. Just always seeing people come by and say hi to them,” says Baylor student Addison Cummings.
Baylor University extends its deepest gratitude to the student caregivers and staff of the Baylor Chamber of Commerce and the veterinarians at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical Sciences and the Texas A&M Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital in College Station for their dedication to the care of our Bears and their genuine love for our Joy and her quality of life.
Memorial contributions to honor Joy’s memory and legacy can be made to the Bear Habitat/Mascot Fund at Celebrating the Life of Baylor Bear Mascot Judge “Joy” Reynolds. All donations will support the planned bear retirement facility and continued enhancements to the Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat, benefiting Lady and the future generations of Baylor’s American Black Bear ambassadors.
A remembrance service will be held for Joy early in the fall semester once students fully return to campus. In addition, cards and letters may be sent to Baylor Bear Habitat, One Bear Place #97185, Waco, TX 76798-7185.