The 'Golden Girls' actor loved animals and spent more than five decades supporting animal causes through various means.
Betty White loved animals, and she loved them more than people. The veteran TV actor was a staunch advocate for animals rights throughout her whole life. 'The Golden Girls' actor passed away on New year's eve at the age of 99 and now, fans want to honor the actor by donating $5 to animal rescues or shelters in her name. Dubbed the 'Betty White challenge,' thousands are garnering support online to raise awareness on the matter to generate as much they can on January 17, on what would've been the TV icon's 100th birthday, reported New York Post. Despite the event set for January 17, organizations have already started receiving donations in her name.
Dr. Robin Ganzert, president and CEO of American Humane, told 'Good Morning America' that the organization has already noticed an 'uptick in donations' following the actor's death. She was passionate about animals and supported many causes throughout her life. She published a book, "Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo" in 2011 discussing her work with animal nonprofits. Throughout her life, she helped support animal causes through donations, volunteering, fundraising, and recording public service announcements.
Her association with Los Angeles Zoo goes a long way and she has worked with them to fix conditions at the zoo and in helping save endangered species. Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association president Tom Jacobson said she has been involved with the zoo for more than five decades. "We are grateful for her enduring friendship, lifelong advocacy for animals, and tireless dedication to supporting our mission,” he said.
“Betty White demonstrated a lifelong commitment to helping animals in need, including dedicated support for local shelters and animal welfare endeavors, fiercely promoting and protecting animal interests in her entertainment projects and personally adopting many rescued animals,” said Matt Bershadker, president of the nonprofit ASPCA, after the actor's death. “Betty was a constant and compassionate advocate for vulnerable animals across the country, and will be greatly missed.”
She also supported the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium. To honor her commitment In 2014, the zoo’s entrance to their Heart of Africa exhibit was named Betty White Way. The actor 'inherited' her love for animals with her parents being 'genuine animal nuts,' according to the actor. One of the first memories with animals involved taking care of pets her parents had taken in because former owners could no longer care for them because of the hardships on account of the Great Depression.
She even had her own TV series dedicated to animals titled 'The Pet Set' in the 70s. Each episode of the show would begin with Betty White introducing a pet and then their celebrity owner. Mary Tyler Moore, Della Reese, Burt Reynolds, and Carol Burnett were some of the popular names featured on the show. In one episode, Betty White can be seen brushing a 500-pound lion’s mane in between kisses.
Betty White also started wildlife funds research and address wildlife disasters. The fund raised $1 million to support the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of animals after the devastating wildfires in Australia in 2020. “Betty White has been an unparalleled force in making the world a better place for all animals, committing her life to improving their health and well-being,” said Tiffany Grunert, president, and CEO of Morris Animal Foundation.
In 2012, American Humane honored Betty White with the National Humanitarian Medal and the Legacy Award, for her contributions towards animal causes. “She’s been involved with American Humane for over 70 years — that’s nearly half of our 145-year existence,” said Robin Ganzert, CEO and president of American Humane, reported TODAY. “That makes her the longest living supporter of American Humane in our history.”
When Betty White, America lost one of its most loved actors, and animals lost a dear friend who loved them and championed their causes. Betty White's continued efforts to protect and care for animals just show how intrinsic her love for animals was. “I just like animals more than I like people. It’s that simple,” she once told Entertainment Tonight.