LA Zoo marks the late Betty White’s 100th birthday with tribute

LOS ANGELES — The late Betty White was known for her love of animals, so the Los Angeles Zoo remembered one of its best friends on what would have been her 100th birthday.

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On Monday, a special white rose garden was opened in the Allen Ludden Plaza of the zoo, where fans left White messages and drawings, KTLA-TV reported.

Ludden was a longtime game show host and White’s husband, who died in 1981.

White, who died Dec. 31, 2021, at the age of 99, was a friend and longtime trustee at the zoo who donated her time to help raise money for the facility, KABC-TV reported.

“Betty was not just an advocate for the L.A. Zoo and the animals here, but for animals all over the world,” Tom Jacobson, president of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, said during Monday’s ceremony. “From those in the wild, to those in shelters, guide dogs for the blind, she loved all animals, large and small.”

The zoo also created the self-guided “Betty’s L.A. Zoo Tour,’’ honoring White’s contributions to the facility, KNBC-TV reported. The tour includes signs at 16 stops where guests can learn about White’s connection to a particular animal or location through a series of pictures and quotes.

The tour will run through Jan. 31, the television station reported.

“Something feels a little incomplete here today, not just at the zoo, but in Los Angeles. That’s the loss of an angel here in the city of angels, our dear friend, Betty White,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti told the crowd. “I knew we were all looking forward to celebrating 100 years with her. I’ve been here so many times with Betty.”

“The words that come to mind when I think about Betty are ‘entertainment legend,’ ‘animal advocate,’ and she was a member of the Los Angeles Zoo family for decades, as you’ve heard,” the zoo’s director, Denise Verret, told the crowd. “Betty was our biggest champion and she worked tirelessly on behalf of the Los Angeles Zoo, and the animals that call the zoo home.”

White, best known for her Emmy Award-winning roles on “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” and “The Golden Girls,” was a supporter of the zoo for more than five decades, Jacobson told The Orange County Register.

“From those in the wild, to those in shelters, guide dogs for the blind -- she loved all animals, large and small. She was never one to stand outside and criticize. She would always work with us to do what she could to help,” Jacobson said. “She always looked forward, never back, and wanted to have a positive impact on the world, and that’s what she did. She was an endearing figure on and off the screen.”