Betty White would have been 100 on January 17, and the celebration goes on with “Betty White: A Celebration.” The new documentary will show her final interview before she passed on New Year’s Eve and premiere in theaters nationwide. Also, Betty will appear in the National Geographic movie, “Betty White Goes Wild!” on Disney+ starting January 14.
Cat lovers, in particular, will be thrilled to see Betty visit big cats from zoos in Los Angeles and San Diego. In the 2013 TV movie, she “learns about the behavioral traits of big cats, and how to better protect their futures,” reports ET.
“My life is half animals and half show-business, the two things I love most. You can’t ask for better than that,” the icon told PEOPLE in 2010.
Now, The First Lady of Television’s lifetime of efforts to help animals has inspired a new movement called the Betty White Challenge. What better way to honor her memory?
The Betty White Challenge
To participate in the Betty White Challenge, all you have to do is donate at least $5 to any animal shelter or rescue in Betty White’s name on her birthday, January 17, Yahoo reports. If possible, share the story on social media with #BettyWhiteChallenge, already trending.
Of course, you may donate in her name anytime, but it will be great to see how many people do it for what would have been her 100th birthday. Many animal groups reported early donations from the challenge.
See more from JET24 FOX66 YourErie:
Hopefully, it could become a national pet holiday celebrated annually. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
— Cole & Marmalade (@ColeTheBlackCat) January 4, 2022
Pioneering Animal Pain Management
According to Denver’s Morris Animal Foundation, the star’s efforts led to revolutionary long-term changes to prevent animals from suffering.
“Betty always put the animals first. In the 1990s, she suggested pain management should be an area of future research and funded the first few studies,” said Dr. Rob Hilsenroth, former Morris Animal Foundation Executive Director and a longtime friend of Betty White. “Today, if a veterinarian performs an elective surgery, like a spay or neuter without using pain management, she/he could face a malpractice charge.”
Thus, we can thank Betty for helping make animal pain management a priority that will continue.
“You can thank Betty White for that revolutionary change in the way we practice all phases of veterinary medicine today.”
More about the Betty White Challenge from USA Today:
Betty White: A Champion for Animals
Throughout her career, White advocated for cats and all animals. Her fan club, Bet’s Pets, donates dues towards animal rescue charities, and she supported fundraisers for numerous animal welfare organizations. (Too many to list them all!)
Over the years, she received many awards and distinctions for her efforts, like the National Humanitarian Medal from American Humane. Every year, she presented the guide dog winner for the organization’s Hero Awards.
In 2017, she received the Jame Smithson Bicentennial Medal for her “commitment to wildlife and efforts to create a sustainable planet” through her work with animal rescues and zoos.
“What a privilege to be honored simply for my passion — for what I love most in the world —animals,” White stated.
Indeed, she once mused that her love of animals surpassed her love for people. Well, many people can relate.
“I love children, the only problem with children: they grow up to be people, and I just like animals better than people. It’s that simple,” she said to Entertainment Tonight.
Below, she discussed the importance of microchipping dogs and cats from MyPet USA:
She Loved All Living Creatures, Including Us
In 1966, White started working with the Los Angeles Zoo and appeared in the 1974 TV special Backstage at the Zoo. Later, she donated all proceeds of her book Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo to the wildlife facility and nonprofit, Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA). Since 1974, White was one of the GLAZA board of trustees.
“She cared deeply for all living creatures – including us. Her loss leaves a great hole in our hearts,” said Los Angeles Zoo CEO & Director Denise M. Verret.
When Verret says that White loved all animals, it was true. For example, the actress appeared in funny commercials with musician Slash in 2012 to promote a new home for amphibians, invertebrates, and reptiles. The same year, the Zoo named a newborn orangutan Elka after White’s character on Hot in Cleveland, Elka Ostrovsky.
Honorary Zookeeper and Ambassador to the Animals
In 2006, she was named Los Angeles’ “Ambassador to the Animals” and an honorary zookeeper.
“I always wanted to be a zookeeper when I was growing up, and I’ve wound up a zookeeper!” White said.
At the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, the Heart of Africa exhibit entrance is called “Betty White Way.”
Notably, White also advocated for the African Wildlife Foundation and Actors and Others for Animals.
Below, she appeared with Jack Hanna at the opening for the exhibit.
‘The Ultimate Cougar’
In 1971, her show, the Pet Set, featured interviews with celebrities and their pets. More recently, Betty appeared on the Queen Latifah Show with her friend and co-founder of the Wildlife Learning Center in California, Paul Hahn. The center inspires people to care for wildlife and the environment and provides sanctuary for rescued animals.
“In my head, I’m the ultimate cougar. Animal lover that I am,” she told Piers Morgan on CNN.
Betty was so empathetic with animals that she said,
“The animals always tell how they’re treated, how they’re cared for,” about the center’s animals. “They’re so relaxed, they’re so loving and so dear,” which she said reflected Hahn’s care for them.
We love you Betty White and know that millions upon millions of animals will continue to benefit thanks to your amazing life!