In one of her last interviews Betty White described the two sectors of her life, animals and acting. “I’m the luckiest person in the world — my life is divided in absolute half: half animals, half show business,” White told TV Guide in 2009. And be active she was. Starting at a very young age White felt an affinity towards the meekest and the weakest amongst us. “It is so embedded in me,” she said, according to Smithsonian magazine. “Both my mother and father 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.”
She began working with the Los Angeles zoo back in the 1960s when she was shocked by the abysmal conditions the animals were being kept in. She committed to do something about it right then and there. “I got involved with the Los Angeles Zoo because I was kind of shocked that Los Angeles had such a poor zoo inside,” she told AARP. “I’ve never been one to stand outside and criticize. I’d rather get inside and see what’s going on, see how I can help.” The state-of-the-art chimpanzee, orangutan and gorilla exhibits now where animals roam comfortably are a direct result of White's efforts. She went on to serve 50 years on the Board of the Los Angeles zoo.
In the 1970s, White also worked with the Morris Animal Foundation, which “advances animal health” though top-notch research, according to its website White eventually served as the group’s president emeritus as it developed groundbreaking animal science such as the feline leukemia vaccine and the Potomac horse fever vaccine.
Amongst the platitudes echoing from the animal community leadership most telling were the sentiments echoed by ordinary people across the country on social media. “A trailblazer. An original. And a truly kind soul. May she be forever surrounded by four-legged animals in heaven,” one fan tweeted. Another added, “Everyone loved Betty White for a million different valid reasons, but I’d like to celebrate her decades of activism, advocacy and devotion on behalf of animals and animal welfare, something she learned as a child and made a central part of her life. #RIP”
Joining other celebrities such as Bob Barker, Linda Blair, Leonardo DiCaprio, Joaquin Phoenix, Alicia Silverstone and many more such figures, Betty encompassed the best in humanity. She brought joy to both humans and animals, she blessed millions of lives through her being. Humans are by nature followers, we seek leadership and then follow such leadership. This is why we have formulated governments to lead us. Betty White and other celebrities as "leaders" are able to shine a light for the rest of humanity toward the path of a kinder and gentler world. One where humans and animals live together in peace, harmony and love.
Thank you Betty, well done, now rest in peace amongst the animals that loved you back so much.