Concern for animals a factor

Updated: October 13, 2003, 5:36 PM ET
Associated Press

WACO, Texas -- Baylor University has changed a decades-old practice of having a black bear at home football games after veterinarians said crowd noise could agitate the animal.

The decision follows a protest that began last year by members of Chicago-based Showing Animals Respect and Kindness (SHARK), who claimed the bears were driven into a state of psychosis because they were kept in a mostly concrete environment.

The facility on the Waco campus houses two female North American black bears: Joy, almost 2 years old, and Lady, almost 3.

School officials denied that the bears were being harmed and cited satisfactory inspections by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

But the school plans to start an $800,000 fund-raising drive this fall to upgrade the facility built in 1976, said Larry Brumley, a Baylor spokesman. The "bear pit" will extend along Waco Creek with trees and more grass.

Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press