Betty White is a self-professed animal lover and also a zoophile. She enjoys going to zoo’s all over the U.S. and believes that activism for the animals at the zoo can come from within without destroying the benefits that a zoo has for people and the environment.
In her new book “Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo” White explains her appreciation for the “good zoos” and says that protesting and marching are not enough to change a bad zoo to a good zoo.
She told the Huffington Post of her appalling first visit to the Los Angeles Zoo at Griffith Park and how it inspired her to make a change from within. She said, “I was really kind of appalled that a city like Los Angeles had such a poor zoo… I’ve never been a big demostrator from the outsided criticizing. I’d much rather get inside and help. So I started to work with the zoo and got hooked, and they haven’t been able to get rid of me since.”
White believes that zoos are meant to play an important part in protecting threatened animals. That conviction deepened, according to the HuffPo, when the last Javan rhino in Vietnam was killed for its horn. The former Golden Girl said, “Once we lose the last rhino in Vietnam, it ain’t coming back. Once they’re gone, you can’t restore that population.” The World Wildlife Fund reports that there are only 40 to 60 Javan rhinos left in Indonesia.
Organizations like PETA claim that zoos are a detriment to society and would like you to believe that all zoos are evil because a zoo or a wildlife park deprives wild animals the ability to satisfy their most basic needs.
White responds to the naysayers with logic asking where the animals are to go when the human population keeps increasing and taking their natural habitat away. She told the HuffPo, “that many people get very irate, say, ‘Animals should be in their natural habitat, they shouldn’t be in captivity.’ Well, in the meantime, we’ve taken much of that natural habitat away. It doesn’t exist anymore.”
It isn’t the first time that Miss White has criticized PETA for misinformation. In 2009, the Golden Girl explained her distrust for PETA and other militant bodies like it in an interview with a Canadian news service.
She said, “They play dirty. They not only give misinformation but disinformation . . . . They won’t listen, and it infuriates me. I’m sure they love animals but they should find out the facts.”
White had previously been aligned with PETA. She starred in an anti-fur PSA for the group, was vocal about a Vogue editor wearing fur to New York Fashion Week in 2006, and has worked as an animal activist for many other organizations although she claims she is “not an animal activist” and that “health and welfare” are her only interests in working with animals from within the zoo.
White’s book is available for purchase at all major books stores.