Powell, OH – The Columbus Zoo and Aquarium’s Partners In Conservation (PIC) is proud to make its annual grant to the Gorilla Doctors this year in honor of Betty White.
Betty’s passion for the animal world and dedication to the zoo and wildlife conservation communities was lifelong. She was a supporter of the Gorilla Doctors’ work with the endangered mountain gorillas in East Central Africa – first through the Morris Animal Foundation where she was a board member and then through Gorilla Doctors directly.
“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.
PIC will grant $40,000 in privately raised funds to the Gorilla Doctors to help support salaries for three field veterinarians. These veterinarians monitor gorilla health year-round and treat life-threatening illnesses or injuries sustained in their native range, including removing snares. With a population of 1,063 individuals, mountain gorillas are considered endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species™. In 2018, the IUCN upgraded the mountain gorillas’ status from critically endangered to endangered, in part because of the effective conservation work being done by organizations like Gorilla Doctors.
“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.
The Columbus Zoo is proud and humbled that Betty visited and supported its work on multiple occasions. Betty first visited the Columbus Zoo and met Jack Hanna in 1979; she returned in the mid-1990s to attend PIC’s annual Rwandan Fête fundraiser; and again most recently when Betty accepted her good friend Jack’s invitation to join him for the ribbon cutting ceremony for the opening of the Zoo’s Heart of Africa region in 2014.