Ohio’s Columbus Zoo and Aquarium hailed “supporter” Betty White as a “true champion for all animals” after her death on Friday.
White died in Los Angeles at the age of 99, less than three weeks before celebrating what would have been her 100th birthday. The Columbus Zoo has issued a statement expressing grief over the death of the Daddy’s Girls star, noting that she has long supported both the zoo and its former manager Jack Hanna, whose television appearances as an animal expert have led him to become a celebrity in his own right.
âOur hearts are heavy to learn of the passing of our friend Betty White. We cherish the fond memories of her last visit to the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium when she was our guest of honor at the opening of the Heart of Africa region. in 2014 with his dear friend Jack Hanna, âthe zoo staff wrote. “Betty was a wonderful person, a supporter of the Columbus Zoo and a true champion of all animals. She will be sadly missed.”
The entrance road to the Heart of Africa exhibit, which White helped open in a ribbon cut alongside Hanna in 2014, has been named Betty White Way in honor of the well-known actress. loved. A tearful white man reportedly told Hanna she felt she had finally visited Africa after first experiencing the $ 30.4 million expansion, a 43-acre expanse that features animals such as lions, zebras, giraffes, monkeys and ostriches.
“We are saddened by the passing of our dear and special friend, Betty White,” wrote the family of Hanna, who was diagnosed with dementia earlier this year, in a statement. “Jack first met Betty in the late ’70s and we have considered her a dear friend of the family ever since. Betty was an Animal World Champion. We were so grateful and blessed to have known her.”
White had a reputation as an animal lover that stretched far beyond the Columbus Zoo. Her love of pets led her to care for “26 dogs” at one point, she said. People magazine in 1999. She frequently visited and supported several zoos and was heavily involved in the Morris Animal Foundation animal welfare organization for over 50 years.
Morris Foundation President and CEO Tiffany Grunert on Friday said it was “hard to imagine a world without Betty” in a statement, calling White “a tremendous advocate for animals who has supported without unleashes the Morris Animal Foundation’s work to improve animal health. globally. “
White’s closest zoo relationship was with the Los Angeles Zoo. White worked at the zoo as a volunteer since it opened in 1966. She became a member of the board of directors of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association in 1974, the same year she recruited many famous friends to appear on a show. televised. special highlighting the work behind the scenes in caring for the animals at the zoo.
White served as chair of the association’s board of directors from 2010. She is also the author of the book Betty & Friends: My life at the zoo, whose proceeds were used for the benefit of both the zoo and the zoo association.
“Betty White Ludden’s legacy will have a lasting impact on all of us here at the Los Angeles Zoo,” said Denise M. Verret, CEO and director of the zoo, in a statement obtained by News week. “She was a longtime champion and friend of the LA Zoo who stood up for us and helped amplify the work we do to conserve wildlife.”
“She cared deeply for all living creatures – including us,” continued Verret. âHer loss leaves a big hole in our hearts. The LA Zoo will never thank Betty enough for her decades of support, and we share this heartbreak with all of you. There really will never be another person like her.â