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Betty White Shares Her Love For The Zoo At L.A. Times Festival Of Books

Mike Vulpo |
April 22, 2012 | 11:03 p.m. PDT

Senior Entertainment Editor

"Betty and Friends" is in stores now (Amazon.com)
"Betty and Friends" is in stores now (Amazon.com)
America’s favorite grandma, Betty White, appeared at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Sunday proclaiming her love for animals and zoos around the nation. 

The 90-year-old actress sat down with NPR correspondent Karen Grigsby Bates to discuss her latest memoir, “Betty & Friends: My Life At The Zoo,” in front of the largest crowd seen at the festival’s Los Angeles Times Stage. 

White’s love for animals started when she was, “in the womb.” Her parents were passionate about pets and taught her to always treat them with respect. In fact, White was so eager to buy a pet of her own that she once purchased a white mouse she named Pluto for five cents at lunch from an elementary school classmate. 

Her love for animals spread to area zoos, which White argues are often misunderstood. 

“Zoos need our help and understanding,” White said. “Without zoos, so many more animals will be extinct. They help save disappearing populations.”  

At the Los Angeles Zoo, which White refers to as “my other home,” the former “Golden Girl” has gotten to know the keepers who work tirelessly everyday to care for animals. She urges people of any age to take a trip to their local zoo in order to see the animals up close.

You don’t get the same reaction and understanding of animals by watching them on film than when you get to smell, touch and see them in person at the zoo, according to White. 

White also pointed out many misconceptions owners have of their four-legged friends. She is against people who dress up their dog with fancy outfits and sweaters claiming,  “those people are all about themselves and not about the animals.”

She urges owners to think twice when bringing their small dogs into stores or on their everyday errands.

“It’s not always the best experience for animals,” White said. “All they see are ankles and feet. It can be dangerous too.”

One of her most important words of advice was the impact of rescuing pets instead of spending hundreds of dollars for breed animals.

“The more we rescue the better,” White said. “Don’t breed unless you mean it. That advice is for your children too.” 

Jokes aside, White claims a true animal lover has a pet because of his or her’s companionship.  For White, her seven-year-old Golden Retriever, Pontiac, provides that every day. 

“It’s such therapy to come home and know he’s waiting for me,” White said.

When asked what animal is her favorite, it was no surprise White couldn’t choose just one. “Anything with a leg on each corner,” she said.  If they have more than four legs, I’m not as enthusiastic.”

Reach writer Mike Vulpo here

For complete coverage of the Festival of Books, click here  



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