The #BettyWhiteChallenge did the trick: Viral campaign raises $70,000 for L.A. Zoo

A sign displaying a zoo tour
TV star Betty White was honored at the Los Angeles Zoo on Monday on what would have been her 100th birthday.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

Even in death, Betty White is helping her beloved animal friends.

The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Assn. (GLAZA) has raised more than $70,000 through the nationwide #BettyWhiteChallenge campaign, which encouraged fans to donate to animal welfare organizations on what would have been the “Golden Girls” star’s 100th birthday on Monday.

The money — $70,389, to be exact — came from 1,731 donations. They hailed from 49 states, as well as Washington, D.C., and 11 countries, including Malta, the Netherlands and Australia, a rep for GLAZA, the nonprofit partner of the L.A. Zoo, said Tuesday.


Pink’s Hot Dogs is donating $3,000 from sales of its ‘Betty White Naked Dog’ to the L.A. Zoo on Monday on what would have been White’s 100th birthday.

White, a vocal champion of animal welfare and wildlife conservation, served on GLAZA’s board of trustees and was a zoo donor and honorary zookeeper. A tribute fund in her name, which will remain active through Jan. 31, was also set up to honor her.

The zoo also created a self-guided “Betty’s L.A. Zoo Tour” with signs displaying her connection to a particular animal or location and dedicated a rose memorial garden in its Allen Ludden Plaza to the TV pioneer, who died on Dec. 31 following a stroke. (The plaza was named for White’s late husband.)

GLAZA said that donors included $25,000 from the Walt Disney Corp., $3,000 from Pink’s Hot Dogs and the proceeds from a Madame Tussauds’ Betty White event on Monday.

A young girl looks at a banner
Betty White was honored Monday at the Los Angeles Zoo to celebrate what would have been her 100th birthday.
(Myung J. Chun/Los Angeles Times)

“We are blown away by the number of donations we received yesterday as part of the #BettyWhiteChallenge,” GLAZA President Tom Jacobson said in a statement Tuesday. “Betty would be so thrilled to see the outpouring of support in her honor. So many worthy animal and wildlife organizations were greatly impacted by yesterday’s challenge, and we know Betty is smiling. Betty is a true champion of animals in both life and death, and we look forward to honoring her legacy at the Los Angeles Zoo.”

On social media, $900,000 was raised across Facebook and Instagram for other animal-welfare organizations, according to a Meta spokesperson, adding that more than 26,000 people donated to various fundraisers for the challenge.