Hollywood icon Betty White has been an animal lover for many decades having worked for several conservationist groups.
Betty White is known for a lot of things - holding a Guinness World Record, being the star of multiple hit shows, and in general, a very bad-ass and progressive woman. But one aspect about her that often flies under the radar is her unbridled love for animals. In her documentary, The First Lady of Television, White's friends talk about the 98-year-old's love for animals while she herself admitted that she wants to be remembered as an animal advocate instead of being a famous actress, reports Do You Remember.
Broaching the subject in the 2018 documentary, she said: "That’s my life. The reason I work, the reason I do anything is for my love for animals." When you watch the 57-minute film you will realize just how much love she harbors for animals in general. In one particular clip, White can be seen sitting next to a giant brown bear at the Los Angeles Zoo showering all her love on the giant beast all while completely aware of the fact that one wrong move could turn things very bad. Unfazed by it all, White proceeds to feed him marshmallows before going on to kiss the animal on his face.
The clip is then followed by Georgia Engel's statement which truly demonstrates White's selfless nature. "She says all the time, 'I have to keep doing my acting jobs so I can support my animal causes,'" the late Engel said. Over the last half a century, White has been a regular contributor with the African Wildlife Foundation, Los Angeles Zoo Commissions, the Morris Animal Foundation, and several other animal conservationist groups. According to the Smithsonian, White even served as a trustee at the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association where she advocated for the zoo's causes, educated the public, and even helped in conserving endangered species all over the world.
In 2012, she even published a book titled Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, which was essentially a scrapbook of her favorite animals with photographs and anecdotes from her time with animals. Speaking to the magazine, White shared her thoughts on what it means to be an animal lover. When asked about her earliest memory of feeling a kinship for animals, she replied: "Oh, it is so embedded in me," adding that her love for animals started young due to her parents who were tremendous animal lovers. "They imbued in me the fact that, to me, there isn’t an animal on the planet that I don’t find fascinating and want to learn more about."
White also revealed that she wanted to be a forest ranger or a zookeeper before stepping into acting but such a thing was near impossible in the 1940s. However, during the 2010s she received the post of an honorary forest ranger. In typical White fashion she added: "As far as a zookeeper, I have been such a zoo nut all my life that I am practically a zookeeper!" When asked about her favorite moment at the LA Zoo, she recalled witnessing a newborn camel trying to rise to its feet. "He would get one leg up and then he would get a second leg up. He would try the third leg, and the first two would fall down. He really had to work at it. I stood there and watched the whole time."
She continued: "Just about the time he finally got all four legs under him, and you know how spraddle-legged they are when they first stand, not his mother, but it was like Aunt Maude, one of the adult camels, came over. As if to say, “Oh, what a beautiful baby,” she touched him with her nose and splat! Down he went. He had to start all over again."