TITLE: Betty & Friends
AUTHOR: Betty White
PUBLICATION: 2011 by Putnam
Betty & Friends is the passion project Betty White has been working on for more than a decade-a love letter to zoos and to the animals in them, from a woman who admits she likes animals better than humans (“They’re unconditionally loving!”). In her inimitable voice, Betty takes us on a private tour of her favorite animals and her friendships with them-from Gita the elephant, whom Betty used to take for walks before the zoo opened; to Kelly the massive silverback gorilla, whom Betty has known since his birth in 1987. From giraffes to lizards to koalas, readers witness the majestic variety of animals through Betty’s eyes, and in her own words, accompanied by breathtaking photographs.
WHAT I THOUGHT ABOUT IT . . .
Remember how I lamented about wanting to hear more about Betty’s activism with animals when I read her last book? Oh, this is what I wanted! I contemplated purchasing it on Christmas Eve when I first came across it, but with my new devotion to using my library’s services I put a request up for it there. I haven’t been to a zoo in so long, about seventeen years, although I have so wanted to go in the past several years, usually around springtime to see the zoo babies. Reading Betty’s book makes me more determined than ever that I am going to make time for it!
This touching memoir is dripping with love. You can really sense it in what Betty is saying about her time spent with the amazing creatures at the Los Angeles Zoo (where she was honored as the ambassador for the animals there). In addition to her love, you can also feel the humor. There is one passage where Betty is describing the fundraising to improve the animal homes at the zoo and she remarked, “At one time I probably could have sold my body, but that market disappeared.” Her frustration at the plight of animals comes across to when she relates about some of the residents that the zoo takes in.
Betty White is a woman of few words in her books, but she doesn’t waste them when she uses them. While relating facts about some of the animals that she’s worked with over the years, she also puts her own commentary in with thoughts on what goes on in the world. Like her I can see the need for zoos to exist. I will probably never be able to go to India, but I can see those gorgeous tigers in a zoo that I can reach. Yes, it’s not the same as seeing an animal in the wild but zoos can educate the public and something can then be done about raising their numbers in the wild.
If you think Betty’s simple prose is all there is to this book think again. The photographs are absolutely gorgeous! The photographs take up a lot of this book’s pages so in reality this book doesn’t take very long to read through at all. Looking at these amazing creatures it’s hard to believe that such things like poaching exist. I can admit alongside Betty White that I like animals more than humans.
Whether you are an animal lover or a fan of Betty White, do read this book!