Betty White had a wild side.
The legendary “Golden Girls” star – who died Friday at the age of 99 – was a leading animal rights activist dedicated to saving endangered species and improving conditions at the Los Angeles Zoo.
The beloved actress has for decades advocated for animals in her charitable work, along with publishing a book on the topic and starring in the 1971 “Pet Set” nature promotion program.
said Matt Bershaker, ASPCA President and CEO.
“Betty has been a constant and compassionate advocate for animals at risk across the country, and we will miss her very much.”
The president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, Tom Jacobson, added, “Her work with her [the zoo] Spanning over five decades, we are grateful for her enduring friendship, lifelong advocate for animals, and tireless dedication to supporting our mission.”
Following White’s death on Friday, fans took to Twitter to thank her for being animal friendly.
“Leader. Original copy. And a really good spirit. May you forever be surrounded by the four-legged animals in heaven, “One The fan tweeted.
Another added, “Everyone loves Betty White for a million different good reasons, but I like to celebrate decades of activism, advocacy, and dedication on behalf of animals and animal welfare, something she learned as a child and made an essential part of her life. #Rip”
White – who owned dogs including the Pekingese, Saint Bernard and the poodle – loved all things fur and feathers.
“I am the luckiest person in the world – my life is divided into two absolutes: half animals and half show business,” White told TV Guide in 2009.
“It’s an inseparable part of me,” she said, according to Smithsonian magazine. “My mother and father were wonderful animal lovers. They imbued in me with the fact that, to me, there is no animal on this planet that I do not find wonderful and I want to know more about.”
After White was born in 1922, her mother joked that her long orange cat, Toby, was still one of the cutest dogs.
“My mom always told me that if Toby didn’t agree, I’d have to go back,” White sarcastically told Parade magazine.
In the 1960s, White began working with the Los Angeles Zoo to help improve the then-poor conditions for animal enclosures.
“I got involved with the Los Angeles Zoo because I was kind of shocked that Los Angeles has a bad zoo inside,” she told AARP. “I’ve never been someone to stand outside and criticize. I’d rather go in and see what’s going on, and see how I can help.”
She has served on the zoo’s board of directors for over 50 years, paving the way for the most recent exhibits of chimpanzees, orangutans and gorillas.
“A lot of people have closed minds in zoos. They think that no animal should be in captivity, they should all be in the wild in their own habitat. Well, of course, this is a myth,” White told the Smithsonian Institution.
In the 1970s, White also worked with the Morris Animal Foundation, which “promotes animal health” through outstanding research, according to its website.
White eventually served as honorary president of the group as it developed pioneering animal sciences such as the cat leukemia vaccine and the Potomac horse fever vaccine.
Over the years, she has also worked closely with SPCALA and dog guidance school The Seeing Eye.
In 2011, White published the book Betty and Friends: My Life at the Zoo He went on to host animal TV shows such as “Hero Dog Awards”, “Big Cat Week” and “Betty White Goes Wild”.