Actress Betty White was well-known for her love of animals.
However, fans wouldn’t believe just how far her generosity went! After Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans in 2005, “The Golden Girls” actress personally paid for a private plane to relocate otters and penguins from the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.
Shortly after Betty White passed, the Audubon Nature Institute tweeted, “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. #ThankYouForBeingAFriend.”
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. ❤️ #ThankYouForBeingAFriend pic.twitter.com/NLneNetezz
— Audubon Nature Institute (@AudubonNature) January 1, 2022
Fans were absolutely awestruck by the reveal. “What a great Humble human being,” one fan commented. “Bless you Betty and Thanks fer all the good laughs.”
“Betty White was an icon/legend/GOAT frfr,” another added.
“I visited them in Monterey & sent a note to your office about how well they were doing, which you forwarded to your penguin keeper,” another fan shared. “He & I emailed back & forth a few times. I was so inspired by his love for animals that I wound up volunteering at the Oakland Zoo for a few years.”
The Aquarium Didn’t Even Know That Betty White Helped Out!
As it turns out, the “Lake Placid” actress didn’t let slip that she had donated to the rescue efforts until much later, according to a statement spokesperson Annie Matherne made to HuffPost.
Although the Audubon Aquarium was built on high ground with concrete walls and windows designed to withstand high winds, more than 10,000 fish died after the aquarium’s generators failed and filters in the marine tanks stopped working.
“It was unknown before the storm of just how extensive the damage would be to New Orleans, as is the case with many hurricanes,” Matherne said. “Our hurricane plan does not include evacuating animals ahead of a storm because storms can shift and we do not want to unnecessarily stress the animals in our care. There are also a number of logistics … that make an evacuation difficult.”
All 19 penguins and two sea otters named Buck and Emma were among the animals that survived the storm and were able to be rescued. Caretaker Tom Dyer, who was responsible for taking care of the penguins, recalled how the animals were flown out of Baton Rouge on a private plane.
Tom Dyer Remembers Betty White: ‘A Thread About A Queen’
A thread about a Queen:
I took care of the birds at the Aquarium for 21 years. After Katrina, we evacuated every animal that made it that we could. Got a call from Monterey Bay AQ. that they would take our
— Tom Dyer (@VidaRoch) December 31, 2021
Shortly after White passed away, Dyer remembered how she saved the animals in a lengthy Twitter thread.
“A thread about a Queen,” he began. “I took care of the birds at the Aquarium for 21 years. After Katrina, we evacuated every animal that made it that we could. Got a call from Monterey Bay AQ. that they would take our 19 penguins and two sea otters and they had a plane in Baton Rouge ready to go.”
“We got the animals there and boarded and I and a Vet flew with them,” he continued. “Asked the pilot what this was costing. I believe it was about $70,000.”
“Next morning, wanted to thank the director who I knew slightly,” he recalled. “She said a donor paid and did not want to be identified. It finally leaked years later and Betty White did it. Didn’t want anybody to know.”
“I’ve never posted socially about this, but what a Classy F—ing Dame,” he concluded.
#BettyWhiteChallenge Seeks To Honor Her Love Of Animals
Excellent idea! Betty White was a lifelong advocate for animals of every variety. ❤️
🐶🐱🐭🐹🐰🐻🧸🐼🐻❄️🐨🐯🦁🐮🐷🐽🐸🐵🙈🐒🦍🦧🐔🐧🐦🐤🐺🦊🦝🐗🐴🦓🦒🦌🦘🦥🦦🦫🦄🐝🐛🦋🐌🪲🦦🐢🐍🦎🐙🦑🦞🦐🐠🐟🐬🦈🦭🐳🐊🐘🦏🦛🦣🐐🐏🐖🦇🐓🦃🕊️🦅🦆🦢🦉🦜🐕🐇🐁🐿️🦨🦡🦔#DonateInBettysName 1/17/22 https://t.co/BRRCEAlFJq
— Mark Hamill (@HamillHimself) January 5, 2022
January 17 is not only Betty White Day in her hometown, but fans have started to get the #BettyWhiteChallenge trending.
The challenge reads: “On Betty White’s 100th birthday, January 17th, everyone should pick a local rescue or animal shelter in your area and donate just $5 [dollars] in Betty White’s name. Make her 100th birthday the moment she deserves.”
This morning, even “Star Wars” actor Mark Hamill retweeted the challenge from Dan Freeman, tweeting, “Excellent idea! Betty White was a lifelong advocate for animals of every variety. #DonateInBettysName 1/17/22.” He also included an emoji of every animal he could find.
One fan added, “Can I add to this and say that most people know about ‘adopt don’t shop’ but are still wary of adopting a rescue pet because they think they will be more work. That’s probably true for some of them, but my rescue cat and my friends’ rescue cats are all so sweet.”
“Adopting my cat really changed my life for the better, and right now animal shelters are overflowing with corona kittens and puppies and they will have to be put down if they can’t find a forever home,” they continued. “If you’ve been thinking about getting a pet, maybe this is the right time.”