Giraffe Calf Born at Zoo on the Late Betty White’s 100 Birthday

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First giraffe calf of 2022. | Image from Twitter/San Diego Zoo

On Monday, January 17, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park welcomed the first giraffe calf of 2022. The newest addition, who does not yet have a name, made its entrance on the day that would have been the late actress Betty White’s 100th birthday.

White was also known for being a wildlife advocate.

In a press release, the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance said, “Betty White spent her life championing the cause of wildlife around the world. She worked with many conservation organizations, including San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance, to shed light on the need to conserve wildlife.”

Throughout her lifetime, the actress donated thousands of dollars to charities, funded animal rescues, and even started nonprofits. Her official fan club, Bets’ Pets, was also dedicated to helping animals.

TikTok creator, Eve Bridges, stated, “Just seeing all these videos of her chilling with animals or in interviews just saying how much animals mean to her is literally so inspiring. Just to know how involved she was in animal activism, animal rights, zoos, and rescues, it’s awesome.”

White was honored with many accolades for her contributions to animal welfare. She was named the City of Los Angeles’ “Ambassador to the Animals,” and received the National Humanitarian Medal and the Legacy Award, American Humane’s highest honor.

According to The Washington Post, in addition to sharing a birthday with a zoo animal, White also shared a name with one. Around a decade ago, the Wildlife Learning Center in Sylmar, California acquired a pair of baby hedgehogs as part of a program to rescue the species from extinction, and the female was named Betty in White’s honor.

White was then invited to name the male hedgehog, and chose Allen, after her late husband. Though White never had children of her own, the hedgehog couple namesakes had many babies, and White visited the animals a few times a year.

Because the Golden Girls actress loved animals so deeply, the #BettyWhiteChallenge urging people to donate $5 to animal shelters and rescues in her honor quickly spread through social media.

The owner and director of the Wildlife Learning Center, David Riherd, told The Washington Post that the center had received donations labeled “in memory of Betty White” before the challenge even began. Tom Jacobson, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association reported a similar experience: the L.A. Zoo, for which White was a board member, had been getting gifts in her honor since the day she died.

Organizations are paying tribute for White’s birthday as well. The San Diego Humane Society is waiving adoption fees for all adult animals for the duration of the week.

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