by China DeSpain
Categories: Animals
Tags: .

The Georgia Aquarium has named its new dolphin mascot “Betty” after actress and animal lover Betty White. White has been a supporter of the aquarium, which is the world’s largest, since 2010, when she met and bonded with a beluga whale named Beethoven. White was so transformed by swimming with the whale that she devoted a chapter in her book “If You Ask Me (And Of Course You Won’t)” to the experience.

White returned to to Atlanta on Wednesday and spent time at both the zoo and the aquarium as part of her research for an upcoming book about her experiences with animals. While at the aquarium, she once again visited Beethoven and his tank mate, as well as Gracie, an otter White first met in California 14 years ago.

“It was my idea to come this time. I flew myself back and the aquarium was kind enough to let me have another visit with him. My schedule is so busy, you just never know when you might have a chance to interact like that again,” she said. “Places like [the aquarium] are sending such a wonderful message. I always get a little discouraged when people say about zoos and aquariums, ‘They shouldn’t take animals out of their natural environment.’ But what have we done to their natural environment? It doesn’t exist anymore. The people have taken over. But a facility like this, they’re sending a message – appreciate the wildlife.” 

For their part, the aquarium is grateful to have a supporter in White. According to Aquarium President David Kimmel, “Betty White truly believes in the dedicated work Georgia Aquarium does on behalf of aquatic animals. Her commitment to supporting awareness for our research and conservation programs is remarkable, and her enthusiasm, understanding and passion for all animals make her an ideal ambassador for the zoological community.”

Be sure to check out videos of Betty describing her experiences at the aquarium, as well as the mascot naming ceremony.

White, known her her roles on The Mary Tyler Moore ShowThe Golden Girls and Hot in Cleveland, is also one of many celebs who have been invited to this year’s Marine Corps Ball.


About China DeSpain

China DeSpain is a San Antonio-based writer and blogger. She loves pop culture, animal rights, health and fitness, international travel, books and wigs. Follow China on Twitter: @ChinaDeSpain

View all posts by China DeSpain →
  • Erin Elizabeth

    I do love betty white and i have tons of family in atlanta. but i NEVER go with them to the aquarium because (imagine this) i don’t like animals in chlorine tanks in captivity.. (big surprise)

  • herwin

    according to other websites, her new book is about aquariums and zoos.

    “Places like [the aquarium] are sending such a wonderful message. I always get a little discouraged when people say about zoos and aquariums.”

    Okay, so this non veg lady animal lover did some Peta adds (and later trashed Peta…), promotes zoo’s and is a little bit flavored with anti animal rights sentiment.
    Sorry, not my hero, not even close.

  • Maria Romano Trampe’

    Did the 2 of you read what she even said about her experiences at the zoos and aquariums….It was BECAUSE of those experiences that she has become the animal advocate that she is. I get so tired of telling all you naysayers this exact thing….humans NEED that interpersonal experience to relate to something and want to ensure it’s continuation. Are you going to tell me that growing up you never went to zoo’s or aquariums you just magically acquired an affinity to save animals because to that I will say Bull. Yes there are some of these establishments that should NOT be operating and do not have the animals interests at heart, but there are MANY who truly care about and for these wild ambassadors and have literally transformed many many people into the animal supporters they are today.

    • herwin

      I personally don’t find her an “animal advocate” for two reasons :
      1. It’s not possible to eat animals AND be an “advocate” for them.
      2. She is pro zoo’s, and zoo’s are places where animals are being locked up against their will for entertainment.

      You want interaction with nature and animals ? There is plenty of wildlife ALL AROUND YOU. Cities are teaming with (often hidden) animal life, birds, mammals, reptiles, you would be so surprised. To discover about this urban wildlife is exciting and really teaches adults and children alike, more about animals and their habitats.
      Not good enough and want to see “exotic” wildlife ? Buy a dvd of a great nature doc with Attenborough.

      Zoo’s are just freak shows,disrespectful, injustice, we only learn that it is okay to lock up animals and shows a lack of respect and true understanding, and the animals have to pay the price. That’s s-a-d.

      • Maria Romano Trampe’

        first of all again make sure you have your facts correct , not all zoo’s are locking up animals from the wild. I happen to be a volunteer educator at a small non profit ZOO and our animals are from rescues and rehabilitation centers that could not release the animals one reason or another and they NEEDED a home. These animals are cared for and treated with respect and in turn they are educated ignorant humans about their existence and their need for humans to stop trashing this earth. I spend more than 500 hours every year volunteering to educate people …and again I ask you Have you NEVER visited a zoo or aquarium and had an enjoyable visit? I agree that animals should NEVER be taken from the wild and placed in captivity for the entertainment of humans, but not every animal facility operates that way.

        As for the meat eating part of it…do you have a cat or a dog or another carnivorous? Do they eat meat??? Well guess what you are then contributing to the suffering of animals that are raised for food. You have no right to condemn someone who doesn’t follow your rules of eating, you are welcome to educate them as to the reasons and hope they will attempt to change.

      • herwin

        to answer your question, the last two years i have visited a zoo AND an aquarium and i did find it extremely sad and depressing to see all these animals with their numb expressions in cages and clorine tanks just doing nothing or swimming/walking circles over and over again.
        So NO, i don’t have an “enjoyable moment” when visiting these concentration camps.

        “I agree that animals should NEVER be taken from the wild and placed in captivity for the entertainment of humans.”

        Q : So that means you think the Aquarium in Atlanta sucks ?

      • http://twitter Izabellah

        hi, um

        i read what you have written and i think that it is faulse LOL ok i am sorry but i think that animals get locked up for safety and for others saik…..animals are our nature they are very helpfull in all sorts of way and people wpuldnt be alive if there werent any animals around .

  • Maria Romano Trampe’

    Yes. I have not visited and have no intention on visiting any establishment that supports holding animals captive that were once wild. My point being all zoos/marine facilities can not be lumped into the same category and it is each person’s responsibility to research before visiting. I contact a facility prior to visiting to inquire about the facility and where their animals are acquired. If there animals are from rehabs and rescues , I want to support them because there is unfortunately a great need for these.

  • Janine

    I’m so confused as to why this article is up on your site. I’ve loved your site because you normally post environmental- and animal-friendly stories (isn’t that your whole schtick?). But a story about a dolphin sentenced to a life in captivity for the purposes of human entertainment… I’m not sure what could possibly scream “ecorazzi” about this. Can’t imagine why you chose to report on this, and if you did decide to report on it, why you did not put a giant disclaimer that you do not condone keeping animals locked up for life? Dolphins who communicate using sonar cannot function in a cement bathtub, surrounded by people screaming and banging on the glass, not to mention that they swim up to 40 miles a day in the wild (and some of it just for fun, to catch waves and such)… aquariums are just AWFUL!! I’m just shocked and saddened by your posting of this story. You’ve lost some points in my book for sure.