As the entertainment world mourns the loss of television's "Golden Girl" Betty White, animal rights advocates were mourning the loss of a friend who cared deeply for animals of all kinds, fluffy, furry, scaly or slithering.
Betty White worked with the Los Angeles Zoo Commission, The Morris Animal Foundation, African Wildlife Foundation, and Actors & Others for Animals.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles released a statement mourning her death, saying she was a "friend to animals" and had worked with the group to promote the humane treatment of animals since the 1940s.
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White's work with the Los Angeles Zoo began in 1966, when it opened. She officially became a Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association trustee in 1974.
“We are incredibly saddened to hear about Betty's passing this morning and want to offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends as we collectively mourn the loss of a true legend, on and off the screen,” states Tom Jacobson, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), the nonprofit partner of the Los Angeles Zoo. “Her work with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association spans more than five decades, and we are grateful for her enduring friendship, lifelong advocacy for animals, and tireless dedication to supporting our mission,” he goes on to say.
A Look Back on Betty White and Her Love of Animals
She put the LA Zoo on the map when she starred in "Backstage at the Zoo," asking her celebrity friends like Mary Tyler Moore to star alongside her in the 90-minute special. White became chair of the GLAZA board in 2010.
In 2006, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa dubbed her "Ambassador to the Animals."
"She cared deeply for all living creatures – including us. Her loss leaves a great hole in our hearts. The L.A. Zoo cannot thank Betty enough for her decades of support, and we share in this grief with all of you. There truly will never be another person like her," Denise M. Verret, CEO and director of the Los Angeles Zoo, said.
White worked to raise money for spcaLA, holding telethons and releasing PSA's.
"Betty and I would joke that she would outlive us all. She was inspired to lend her celebrity to provide a voice for animals, and brought much attention to the cause of animal welfare. We will miss our Friend for Life," said spcaLA president Madeline Bernstein.
The organization also said anyone wishing to donate in White's name could do so at spcaLA.com/donate.
White died in her Brentwood home Dec. 31, 2021, and preliminary reports indicate she died of natural causes, the LAPD said.
Whether she portrayed a man-crazy hostess on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” or the goofy housemate on “The Golden Girls,” White was America's nonagenarian sweetheart.
"Even though Betty was about to be 100, I thought she would live forever. I will miss her terribly and so will the animal world that she loved so much. I don't think Betty ever feared passing because she always wanted to be with her most beloved husband Allen Ludden. She believed she would be with him again," Betty White's Agent and close friend Jeff Witjas told NBC News.
Gov. Gavin Newsom also released a statement on the actress' death.
“Betty was a trailblazer, and easily one of the most beloved and lasting figures in television," Newsom said. "“But above all else, she was a beacon of hope throughout her career, bringing joy and humor to everything she did. Although she may not have been born here, she was a timeless Californian treasure, through and through, and was inducted into the California Hall of Fame in 2010."
Betty White Through the Years in Pictures
“The Hollywood community and fans around the world are in mourning the huge loss of our Golden Girl, Betty White, who gave so many of us so much joy throughout the years. Although, her star and the star of her late husband Allen Ludden are side by side it helps to know that she is now with her husband who she loved so much. We send our sincere condolences to her family. May she rest in peace," Walk of Fame Producer Ana Martinez said.