How to support animal lover Betty White’s favorite cause

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By Julia M. Chan, CNN

When it came to people, Betty Blanche liked to make them laugh. When it came to animals, she loved to give them a hand.

A lifelong animal lover, White – died Friday at the age of 99 – said that his parents instilled in him compassion for all creatures, large and small. “They imbued me with the fact that for me there isn’t an animal on the planet that I don’t find fascinating and want to know more about,” she said. Smithsonian magazine.

She even aspired to become a ranger or zookeeper before going to Hollywood.

“I often say that I have to stay in show business to pay for my pet business,” White liked to joke. Throughout her career, she has worked with a number of animal health, welfare and conservation groups including those below.

Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association

White has been a passionate advocate for zoos – especially the Los Angeles Zoo – and has been active in the nonprofit organization that supports him. In addition to her duties as zoo commissioner, she has volunteered with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association for over 40 years as a trustee and chairman. She strongly supported the conservation and education missions of zoos.

“Zoos have changed dramatically in the course of our lives,” White wrote for the Los Angeles Zoo. “Our zoo animals serve as ambassadors to the public – to raise awareness about dwindling wild populations before it’s too late. A message that will only be recorded by seeing these wonderful creatures live and up close.

In 2011, White published “Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo,”A book retracing his experiences with animals. The crew of its TV Land sitcom “Hot in Cleveland” adopted a baby orangutan at the Los Angeles Zoo the following year and named it after its character on the series.

cruelty-free american

cruelty-free american (formerly known as the American Humane Association) was the first animal welfare group White joined, and she was involved for over 60 years. White said her acting work allowed her to see first-hand how the group protected their animal co-stars on set through their “No Animals Hurt” certification program.

She became the association’s national ambassador and appeared in a public service announcement like the one above. In 2012, American Humane awarded White its highest honor, the National Humanitarian Medal, and its Legacy Award for Lifelong Helping Animals.

“Betty White is a tireless and dedicated animal welfare advocate and we are proud to present her with these two special awards,” said Robin Ganzert, President and CEO of American Humane, in a statement at the time. . “Betty is an inspiration to me personally, to everyone at the American Humane Association, and to millions of animal lovers around the world.”

Guide dogs for the blind

White was a major donor to Guide dogs for the blind. She has been involved in the nonprofit organization for over 30 years, sponsoring dogs, organizing profits and raising funds.

White didn’t need a guide dog to get around, but she still brought one home – as a pet. After losing a former dog to cancer, Guide Dogs for the Blind gifted him Pontiac, a young golden retriever in need of a career change. A leg problem ended his training as a service dog, but it led to a close camaraderie with White.

“This is my heart, my golden retriever,” she told AARP. “Every time I come home late from work at night, I go up to the house and here is this big golden head in the window on the left landing of the stairs, looking out and waiting for me.”

Endangered Wolves Center

Marlin Perkins, the famous zoologist and host of the TV show “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom”, and his wife, Carol, founded the Endangered Wolves Center in 1971. Formerly known as the Wild Canid Survival and Research Center, the nonprofit cares for endangered species of canids like the Mexican gray wolf and reintroduces them to the wild to help balance ecosystems natural. It is now considered an essential part of federal wolf recovery efforts.

Without White, however, this may never have happened.

“It was all Betty’s fault,” Carol Perkins told the St. Louis Dispatch in 2000. “It was Betty who turned me into wolves.”

White loved wolves his whole life. She fondly remembered seeing and hearing them as a child on family camping trips. After White and Perkins met in the early 1960s, White sent Perkins a book about wolves, and Perkins credited their friendship with sparking his own interest in animals.

In 2005, White started the nonprofit “Puppy Naming Club” of supporters who choose the names of the centre’s youngest wolves. The name she chose for a male puppy was appropriate: Perkins, in honor of her late friend Marlin, who died in 1986.

BraveHearts Therapeutic and Educational Riding Center

BraveHearts Therapeutic and Educational Riding Center uses horseback riding to help children and adults cope with medical problems. It is home to the largest horse-based service program for veterans in the United States.

White got involved with BraveHearts via a board contact. She has become a close friend and generous patron, attending fundraisers and sponsoring a golden horse named Baby.

“We call Betty and Baby our Golden Girls,” said Marge Tautkus Gunnar, founder of BraveHearts.

White has been in contact with humans and horses during his visit to the center.

“Here is this wonderful iconic lady floating in the barn worshiping horses, they worshiping her back,” Gunnar recalls. “And the students and their families flocked to her, and she was so kind and gracious and generous to them.”

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