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Betty White—she’s everywhere!

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June 10th, 2010
MAF Annual Meeting
MAF Annual Meeting

Stand up and cheer! America s latest it girl is 88 ' -year-young actress Betty White, with a new sitcom set to debut in June; a series of commercials now running on TV; and perhaps her biggest coup of all, recent host of Saturday Night Live. Known for her keen ability to turn an innocent bit of dialogue into a suggestive and hilarious bit of shtick, ' Betty White had ' the opportunity to shine her brilliance on a whole new generation in her appearance on SNL. It turns out White s episode of SNL got the best ratings of the season. And in case you missed it, this was no easy job for the actress. She was in every single skit complete with costume changes, wigs, the whole nine yards. All this attention for a woman who has been performing since 1939 has to be a little overwhelming even for someone as talented as White. No stranger to the limelight, White is best known for her Emmy-award winning work as Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show, her amusing banter with husband and host Alan Ludden on the game show Password, and, of course, her role as Rose on The Golden Girls. While Betty White has received a tremendous amount of attention, a news story of global proportions is also making headlines. To White s credit, she is doing her best to deflect some of the spotlight aimed at her and turn it to a cause close to her heart animals, especially those impacted by the BP oil spill in the Gulf. Betty White is doing what she can to make the public aware of the crisis and elicit their support in the form of donations. The Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund, created by the Morris Animal Foundation, gets money to wildlife researchers quickly so they can respond to unexpected events like this oil spill, which create immediate need for animal health research. The first grant provides researchers with funds to begin important ' studies on the long-term effects of the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico on area dolphins. Here s how the Morris Animal Foundation describes its current research:

Currently, about 160 bottlenose dolphins, spanning five generations, live in Sarasota Bay off the Gulf of Mexico. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill could have profound effects on their health, behavior and reproductive success if they are exposed to the oil and related chemicals spilled and the dispersants used to clean the site. This study focuses on the resident Sarasota Bay dolphin community, for which long-term data are available, and dolphins living in the Gulf of Mexico within 10 km of shore, immediately offshore of the Sarasota Bay community. Because inshore communities of bottlenose dolphins tend to live for multiple decades and across multiple generations in a limited area, they are less likely to be able to avoid oil than other marine mammals that range more widely. The dolphins may be exposed to a number of volatile compounds through inhalation, ingestion, or directly through their skin. Researchers will take samples of dolphin tissue to assess the contaminant exposure and hormone levels, then monitor for impacts on their health in the future. Because May through June is the peak calving season for dolphins, it is critical to immediately begin documentation that will allow researchers to estimate neonatal survival rates. While it s too early to predict the extent to which the oil spill will affect native wildlife, there is an urgent need to collect data for the dolphin population to better understand the situation. "The need is so great right now, said White. There are some species that may not make it through this. Morris Animal Foundation's rapid response fund was set up just for these types of needs, and I am honored that the Foundation would dedicate this special fund in my name." White will match up to $25,000 of all donations made to the fund atwww.firstgiving.com/MAFrapi.... If you would prefer to send a check through snail mail, the address is: The Morris Animal Foundation 10200 East Girard Avenue, Suite B430Denver, CO 80231 (Be sure to specify that you are contributing to the Betty White Rapid Response Fund.) It s refreshing to see someone like White share the spotlight with something she cares about. Perhaps it s that attitude that call to serve and the understanding that celebrity can be used to make a positive impact on the world that has given Betty White such resilience both professionally and in life!

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