Baylor University’s Beloved Live Bear Mascot Dies at 21

by Dustin Schutte

Sad news has hit Baylor University. The school announced on Monday that the school’s live bear mascot — Judge Joy Reynolds — has died. She was 21 years old.

The school said Joy passed away while surrounded by her caregivers, staff and veterinary team. Baylor says it will continue to honor the beloved bear in an “on-campus memorial dedicated to the legacy of past, present and future members of the Baylor Bear Habitat.”

Joy was named after the wife of the school’s 11th president, Dr. Herbert H. Reynolds. She has a sister, Lady, and a brother.

“One of Baylor’s treasured North American Black Bears, Joy will forever be remembered as an enduring symbol of Baylor’s spirit and tradition,” the school said in a statement. ” From the moment she arrived on the Baylor campus as a rambunctious four-month-old cub, Joy captured the hearts of students, alumni, faculty and staff and more than 250,000 campus visitors a year.”

In 2021, Joy and Lady made college football history. They were the first live mascots to send a tweet, thanks to paw-friendly technology. The tweet came before the Bears’ matchup against Texas.

Social Media Reacts to News of Baylor Mascot’s Passing

Monday turned out to be a sad day on Baylor’s campus. Students, fans and even rivals offered their condolences through social media after hearing of Joy’s passing.

An outpouring of support came from multiple individuals and schools on Twitter:

The university says it will hold a memorial service for Joy during the fall semester, when students return to campus. It also said it is hopeful to receive two rescue bears in the next year.

“The University hopes to receive two rescue American Black Bear cubs next year to continue Baylor’s tradition of having live bear mascots reside in the heart of campus and continue their unique mission of stewardship, education and conservation for the local community and beyond,” the statement said.