COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium Partners in Conservation made its annual grant to the Gorilla Doctors, but this year with a special addition—dedicating the grant in honor of Betty White who died on Dec. 31.
White, a long-time animal advocate, supported the Gorilla Doctors' work with endangered mountain gorillas in East Central Africa, and with the grant in her name, her support continues.
The Zoo's group will grant $40,000 in privately raised funds to the Gorilla Doctors. That money will help support the salaries of three field veterinarians who monitor gorilla health year-round and treat life-threatening illnesses or injuries sustained in their native area.
Mountain gorillas have a population of 1,063 and are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature's Red List of Threatened Species. Thanks, in part, to the work of the Gorilla Doctors, mountain gorillas have seen their status upgraded from critically endangered to endangered.
“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, in a press release.
White visited the Columbus Zoo numerous times, first in 1979 when she met with Jack Hanna and returning in the 90s to attend the annual Fwandan Fête fundraiser. White once again returned to the zoo in 2014 to join Hanna in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the opening of the Heart of Africa region.
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