Columbus Zoo Makes Annual Wildlife Conservation Donation in Honor of Betty White

Betty White sits with Jack Hanna of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium and a spider monkey in this undated photo.

Partners In Conservation at the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium will award this year’s annual grant to the Gorilla Doctors in honor of Betty White.

Partners In Conservation –– a grassroots group created by the zoo in 1991 to protect African wildlife through humanitarian projects –– will award $40,000 in private funds to Gorilla Doctors, an organization dedicated to the conservation of mountain gorillas and eastern plains by veterinary medicine.

White, who died on New Year’s Eve at the age of 99, was a supporter of the work of Gorilla Doctors and a former board member of the organization, first through the Morris Animal Foundation where she was a board member and then directly by Gorilla Doctors. .

“Our long collaboration with Morris Animal Foundation and Partners In Conservation is a testament to the positive influence zoos can have on wildlife conservation efforts,” said Kirsten Gilardi, executive director and chief veterinarian of Gorilla Doctors. “We are thrilled to receive this grant in honor of Betty White, a true champion for all.”

The grant money will support the salaries of three field veterinarians. Gorilla Doctors veterinarians monitor the health of gorillas throughout the year and treat illnesses and life-threatening injuries sustained in their natural habitat, including removing traps.

Mountain gorillas are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature‘s Red List of Threatened Species, with a population of 1,063 individuals.

“Betty White was a champion of zoos and she will be sorely missed,” said Tom Schmid, president and CEO of the Columbus Zoo & Aquarium. “The Columbus Zoo team is eager to honor his legacy and felt that a grant to Gorillas Doctors in his name would be a fitting tribute to his love of animals big and small.”

As a longtime animal rights activist, White’s death sparked an outpouring of support for animal charities, from local animal shelters to international conservation efforts.

White first visited the Columbus Zoo in 1979. She returned in the mid-1990s to attend the PIC’s annual Rwanda Day fundraiser; and again when she joined Jack Hanna at the dedication ceremony of the Zoo’s Heart of Africa region in 2014.

Betty White joined Jack Hanna, former director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, at the opening of the Heart of Africa exhibit in 2014.

Betty White joined Jack Hanna, former director of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, at the opening of the Heart of Africa exhibit in 2014.

Sheridan Hendrix is ​​a higher education reporter at the Columbus Dispatch. You can reach her at You can follow her on Twitter at @sheridan120. Sign up for his Mobile Newsroom newsletter here.

This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: Columbus Zoo honors Betty White with annual conservation grant

Betty T. Simpson