Originally created 02/22/06

Betty White honored by Los Angeles Zoo



LOS ANGELES - The Happy Homemaker is now an animal ambassador.

Betty White, whose many TV roles included domestic guru Sue Ann Nivens on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" in the 1970s, was honored by the Los Angeles Zoo Monday for her commitment to animals.

The zoo made the Emmy-winning star an Ambassador to the Animals at a ceremony attended by about 50 people, including Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

A bronze plaque will be placed next to the zoo's gorilla exhibit, home to White's favorite animal.

"Betty has such a big heart and a beautiful spirit. She is a 'Golden Girl' in every sense of the word," Villaraigosa said, referring to White's former TV series, "The Golden Girls," which ran from 1985 to 1992.

White, 84, joked that the honor would make her "tough to live with from now on."

"I'm not sure what I'm going to do as ambassador except to love the animals as I have all my life," she said.

White has served for more than three decades on the Morris Animal Foundation and the board of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association, and has been a zoo commissioner for eight years.

She also has written two animal-related books and received the Humane Award from the American Veterinary Medical Association.

"She's the real deal," said Madeline Bernstein, president of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Los Angeles.