For decades, fans of Betty White have known the legend as a permanent fixture in the TV and film industry. Her 80+ years in entertainment have made her more than deserving of holding the title of “icon.”
Yet, in another life, White almost chose another path. Instead of acting in front of cameras, she once thought about working with animals instead. During a 2013 interview with Mike Janela from the Guinness Book of World Records, White revealed that she once seriously considered trading Hollywood sets for zoo life.
When asked what profession she would’ve chosen if acting wasn’t on the table, she didn’t miss a beat. “Hands down, a zookeeper,” the 91-year-old said at the time. However, this isn’t the first time the Hollywood starlet has revealed her love for animals. Since she was a young girl, it’s been her passion for advocating for animals any way she can.
Her track record speaks for itself. For nearly 40 years, White has served as a trustee of the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association. She is also a devoted advocate for zoos and believes in educating the public and saving endangered species.
In her book, Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, readers get an inside look at some of her favorite animals. It also includes photographs and anecdotes about her life with them. In addition, she holds another title besides actress: she’s also an honorary forest ranger.
“A couple of years ago, the Forest Service made me an honorary forest ranger. Back when I started, girls couldn’t be forest rangers. But now they made me an honorary one, made it very official, and I was deeply honored. As far as a zookeeper, I have been such a zoo nut all my life that I am practically a zookeeper,” White said in a 2012 interview with Smithsonian Magazine.
During the ’70s, White combined her love for animals with TV when she created and hosted her show, “Betty White’s Pet Set.” In the show, White conducted interviews with celebrity guests and while simultaneously interacting with their pets. It debuted in 1971 and aired for 31 episodes.
Recently, the 99-year-old announced that the show would be re-released on Apple TV. “I am so pleased to announce the re-release of Betty White’s Pet Set today,” White says in the announcement. “I hope you enjoy watching it as much as we enjoyed making it 50 years ago.”
“Betty White’s Pet Set” is available to watch now on Apple TV. Fans can also purchase the complete DVD set of the entire series from Amazon and Walmart.