COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium's Partners In Conservation (PIC) is making its annual grant to the Gorilla Doctors in honor of Betty White.
The zoo says White, who was known for being a huge animal advocate, was a supporter of the Gorilla Doctors' work with endangered mountain gorillas in East Central Africa.
“Betty White was a champion for Zoos and she will be greatly missed. The Columbus Zoo team is eager to honor her legacy and felt a grant to Gorillas Doctors in her name would be a fitting tribute to her love of animals big and small,” said Tom Schmid, President/CEO of the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium.
White first visited the Columbus Zoo and met Jack Hanna in 1979. She returned in the mid-1990s to attend PIC's annual fundraiser and again for the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Heart of Africa region in 2014.
PIC will grant $40,000 in privately raised funds to the Gorilla Doctors to help support salaries for three field veterinarians.
The zoo says these veterinarians monitor gorilla health year-round and treat life-threatening illnesses or injuries in their native range.
"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. We are thrilled to receive this grant in honor of Betty White, a true champion for all,” said Kirsten Gilardi, Gorilla Doctors Executive Director and Chief Veterinary Officer.
With a population of 1,063, mountain gorillas are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.