Dr. Jane Goodall Remembers Betty White


On the 31st December, we lost Betty White, perhaps one of the most respected and most beloved actresses of Hollywood.  Indeed she was named the Mayor of Hollywood. She died just 2 weeks from celebrating her 100th birthday and I find myself writing this tribute as a memorial to her life, rather than part of a planned video tribute for her birthday. While many people knew her as an iconic actress, I knew her for her love of animals, a love that was genuine and meaningful. She was a patron of LA zoo where I met her several times and I like to think she regarded me as a friend. Betty supported many animal charities, including Guide Dogs for the Blind.  When a vision impaired friend had to get a new guide dog, his aging companion grieved and became depressed at being supplanted – so Betty gave him a loving home for the last 5 years of his life. She also adopted a puppy who did not quite graduate as a guide dog.  That’s the kind of person Betty was – brilliant actress and working to improve the lives of so many animals throughout her life. I have fond memories of a time when Betty and I, together with Wendy Malik and Ed Begley, took part in media events to help raise awareness about the inappropriate use of chimpanzees and other animals by the entertainment industry – which so frequently included cruel training practices.

Betty received well deserved tributes and awards from many charities – including the Jane Goodall Institute’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the Animal Welfare category. I feel so sad that I was not able to visit with her for the past two years because of the pandemic and now I never can – at least, not in this life! Betty, you will be mourned and missed by so many, but the memory of your sparkling personality, your humour, and your passion will live on in our minds. I hope that by now you are united with your loved ones, human and animal, in that place where we go after we leave this world.

About Author

Jane Goodall is a passionate road warrior, traveling nearly 300 days each year on a worldwide speaking tour to raise awareness, inspire change, and encourage each of us to do our part in making the world a better place. Jane's love for animals started at a young age and in July of 1960, at the age of 26, she followed her dreams and traveled from England to what is now Tanzania, to bravely enter the little-known world of wild chimpanzees. She was equipped with nothing more than a notebook and a pair of binoculars, but with her unyielding patience and optimism, she won the trust of the Gombe chimpanzees, and opened a window into their lives for all to see. Jane's studies has taught humanity one of the most important lessons - that we humans are not the only beings on this planet with personalities, minds capable of thinking and above all, emotions. Her findings shook the scientific community and made us re-evaluate what it means to be human.