Betty White’s death left millions in mourning as they reflected on the actress and comedian’s life. While the pioneer of television made her mark in the entertainment industry, she was also a conservationist and animal advocate. Following her passing, the Audubon Nature Institute shared a touching story on Twitter about how the Golden Girls star quietly donated money to relocate penguins and sea otters from the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. “We lost a conservationist, animal advocate, and friend,” the New Orleans-based nonprofit wrote, per PEOPLE. “She did not ask for fanfare; she just wanted to help,” they explained.
We lost a conservationist, animal advocate, and friend. When the penguins & sea otters were evacuated to @MontereyAq for Hurricane Katrina, Betty White paid for the plane to relocate them. She did not ask for fanfare; she just wanted to help. ❤️ #ThankYouForBeingAFriendpic.twitter.com/NLneNetezz— Audubon Nature Institute (@AudubonNature) January 1, 2022
A spokesperson for the Audubon Nature Institute later told PEOPLE, “After Hurricane Katrina, a private plane was chartered to relocate Audubon Aquarium‘s sea otters and penguins to Monterey Bay Aquarium.” They didn’t find out about the secret gesture until after the trip. “Audubon did not find out until after the trip that Betty White had paid for a portion of the trip. Betty was a huge animal advocate and conservationist. She did not want any fanfare surrounding her part in the relocation; she just wanted to help how she could. We are deeply saddened by the loss of a true friend,” they concluded.
Betty’s Instagram page is full of photos of her spending time with lions, gorillas, pigs, and more. in February 2021 the late star shared how pleased she was to announce the re-release of Betty White’s Pet Set. “I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it 50 years ago,” she wrote alongside the clip.
In honor of her 100th birthday celebrities like Lance Bass have encouraged everyone to participate in the #bettywhite challenge. A meme has been shared around the internet with the following directions, “On Betty White’s 100th birthday, January 17th, everyone pick a local Rescue or Animal sanctuary in your area and donate just $5.00 in Betty White’s name.
Betty died of natural causes at the age of 99 “peacefully in her sleep at her home” on New Year‘s Eve. Her agent and fired Jeff Witjas told PEOPLE, “People are saying her death was related to getting a booster shot three days earlier but that is not true. She died of natural causes. Her death should not be politicized — that is not the life she lived.“