Joining the 2023 entering class, Judge Indy and Judge Belle had their own “Move-In Day” in August, quickly acclimating to their new home and routines in the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA)-accredited Bill and Eva Williams Bear Habitat.
After spending the summer at the Bear Habitat’s private auxiliary facility, the American black bears — cousins by birth — rapidly grew from 20-25 pounds in May to more than 50 pounds by the time of their campus move.
Like human toddlers, the cubs require constant supervision and will be rotating on and off of public exhibit throughout the fall.
Because their schedule will be irregular for now, the Bear Habitat team is exploring ways to communicate with the Baylor Family when the cubs will be in the on-campus habitat as their routine continues to solidify.
Indy, the largest cub from her litter, has continued to hold her role as the more dominant of the pair, finding great joy in water time to cool off in the Texas heat, climbing trees and exploring.
Belle, the smallest in her litter but often the instigator of mischief and playtime, has proven to be a quick learner at climbing, necessitating some of the facility upgrades to help “cub-proof” their on-campus home.
Working in partnership with the dedicated Baylor Chamber student caregivers, Baylor staff and external veterinary personnel, the cubs continue some early foundational learned behaviors at the recommendation of the veterinary team, including leash training and travel training, greatly reducing stress and assisting in providing treatment and medical observations of the bears as needed.
Both cubs are expanding their diets beyond their zoologic milk matrix formula, frequently taking down pawfuls of berries, lettuce and carrots.
As the Bear Habitat continues this time of transition, Judge Lady, 21, has made her permanent move to the Bear Habitat’s newly constructed, private auxiliary facility, where she will remain under the care and attention of her Baylor caregiver team.