Although Betty White was a charming actress with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, her long-standing love for animals was not an act.
In the introduction to his 2011 book “Betty and her friends“She wrote that her mother and father” were real animal freaks, and I am eternally grateful that they passed on much of that passion to me. ”
Fueled by this passion, White has helped countless animals in multiple ways throughout her life.
As a child, she helped take care of the pets her parents took when their former owners couldn’t care for them, especially with the hardships of the Great Depression. Curious by nature, she also liked to discover animals from all over the world during her visits to zoos.
This love seems to have deepened over the years. She created the 1970s television series “The Pet Set” (reissued in 2021 under the title “Betty White Pet Set“) and began each episode by introducing a pet – then their famous owner.
Guests included Mary Tyler Moore, Della Reese, Burt Reynolds and Carol Burnett, as well as animal trainer Ralph Helfer, who showcased leopards, elephants and other endangered species that had been “driven by affection. Rather than whipped or punished. (A clip showed White lovingly brushing a 500-pound lion’s mane between kisses.)
She has also personally supported numerous animal related nonprofits throughout her prolific career, from donating and volunteering to fundraising and recording public service announcements.
So, in honor of White’s 100th birthday, animal rights activists from all walks of life sing his praises and wish him good luck.
In addition to her legendary status as an actress, comedian and producer, Betty White has demonstrated a lifelong commitment to helping animals in need, including dedicated support to local shelters and animal welfare efforts, promoting and fiercely protecting the interests of animals in his entertainment endeavors., and personally adopting many rescued animals ”, Matt Bershadker, ASPCA chairman and chief executive officer TODAY said in an email.
Due to his ongoing interest in wildlife conservation and education, White served on the board of directors of the nonprofit Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) since 1974, but has been involved as a volunteer since Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens opened in 1966.
The zoo is renowned for providing quality habitats and enrichment for animals, and the white is a big reason, according to Tom Jacobson, president of GLAZA.
“The chimpanzee habitat – Jane Goodall advised us in building this – and the gorilla habitat is really the result of her advocating for these animals and helping us get the money to build them,” a- he said TODAY. “And she also had a very important voice with the creation of our elephant habitat and its expansion. As a result, in 2013, the Los Angeles Chapter of the American Association of Zookeepers named her Honorary Zookeeper.
White, who was also the 2009 recipient of the Jane Goodall Institute Global Leadership Award for Lifetime Achievement, was gracious to fans when she visited the LA Zoo, and keen to ensure that her presence was not do not stress the animals or disturb the keepers, it is noted.
She once arrived with the trunk of her car full of empty toilet paper tubes that she had saved, as she knew the zoo needed them to fill with food for the animal enrichment games.
Whenever White came for a tour of the zoo with a guide, she would request two special stops: to see Elka, an orangutan named for her character in “Hot in Cleveland” (thanks to a gift in her honor by TV Land), and the Australia section, where there is a plaque dedicated to her late husband, Allen Ludden.
“She always makes sure the plate looks good, dusting it off if she needs it,” Jacobson said. – Then she will stay and say a few words to Allen. It just grabs my heart that she is doing this. She does it every time she comes.
White had also been extremely active with Morris Foundation for Animals, a non-profit organization that invests in science to advance animal health. She served as a Trustee, Trustee Emeritus and President Emeritus for 50 years, and has personally sponsored more than 30 health studies that have improved the health of dogs, cats, horses and wildlife, according to Tiffany Grunert, President and Chief from the management of Morris Animal Foundation.
In 2010, the organization created the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund with a donation from Betty following the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, an environmental disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The fund supported studies on the impact of the spill on bottlenose dolphins.
“Betty was a pioneer in recognizing the need for this type of emergency funding for animal health,” Grunert said TODAY in an email.
The fund, now called the Betty White Wildlife Fund, continues to fund research and fight wildlife-related disasters, she added. For example, in 2020 the fund provided $ 1 million to support the rescue, rehabilitation and release of animals after the devastating wildfires in Australia.
“Betty White has been an unprecedented force in making the world a better place for all animals, committing her life to improving their health and well-being,” she said.
White also helped make the world a better place for people assisted by animals and was a strong supporter of guide dogs. She has co-authored two books on guide dogs with her friend Tom Sullivan, who lost his sight as a baby. When Sullivan’s retired guide dog Dinah felt depressed over the arrival of his new dog, White adopted Dinah and they shared “over five glorious years together,” Sullivan wrote in the note. from the author to “Together. “
In 2005, the “Golden Girls” star also adopted a “career change” dog from Guide dogs for the blind, an international guide dog school with campuses in California and Oregon. Pontiac, a golden retriever, didn’t really mean to be a guide dog because he wanted to greet everyone he saw on the street. But that cuteness was a perfect match as a pet for Betty White.
“Golden Retrievers are really extroverts, they love people. They just can’t get enough of saying hello to people. And Betty is like this: she really loves people, ”Christine Benninger, CEO and President of Guide Dogs for the Blind told TODAY. “She’s the human version of the golden retriever.”
Betty supported Guide Dogs for the Blind long before adopting Pontiac; she has made “very generous gifts” every year since 1986, attended events, wrote personal notes for direct mail campaigns and recorded two public service announcements, according to Benninger.
“I have the greatest respect for her. She is one of the few people I have met in this world who truly comes from a place of love in everything she does, ”she said.
Across the country in New Jersey, Betty was friends with The eye that sees, America’s oldest guide dog school. One unusual form of support was offering a very popular auction item for the group’s annual fundraising auction: a dinner with White herself.
“All of us at The Seeing Eye are mourning the passing of our friend, Betty White,” the organization told TODAY.com in a statement. “Betty was not only a supporter of The Seeing Eye, but an advocate for the rights of people who use guide dogs to have equal access to restaurants, hotels and transportation. She loved our dogs and they loved her. liked. “
Due to Betty White’s affinity for guide dogs and their handlers, for several years she presented the award to the winner of the Guide Dog category in the American Humane Hero Dog Awards. American Humane, established in 1877, works to ensure the safety, welfare and welfare of animals with a variety of initiatives, including the “No animal was injured”Program to protect animal actors in movies, TV shows and commercials.
“She’s been involved with American Humane for over 70 years – that’s almost half of our 145-year history,” said Robin Ganzert, CEO and President of American Humane, TODAY. “This makes her the longest-serving American Humane supporter in our history.”
White has held various positions, such as volunteer, donor, and board member. She chaired the association twice Be kind to animals week, who teaches children across the country how to be compassionate and live a life of empathy for all living creatures, Ganzert said.
In 2012, cruelty-free american honored Betty White with the National Humanitarian Medal and the Legacy Award.
“We honored Betty with our highest honor for what we have called her outstanding and unprecedented contribution during her remarkable life and for spreading understanding, empathy, kindness and humane treatment for all. living creatures, ”Ganzert said. “This is, in a nutshell, what totally defines the amazing Betty White.”