Betty White, Champion for Animals (Image Entertainment, directed by Robert Kline, 89 minutes, 2012, NR, $14.68)
Betty White, of The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Golden Girls fame, has loved animals all her life, and thanks to her fame and wealth, can help care for, maintain and protect them all over the world. America’s Golden Girl (with a career-changing guide dog, a golden retriever, of her own) has dedicated her life and resources to the fauna of the world.
This 90-minute documentary can be viewed in short snippets of which there are a dozen:
The Maryland Zoo
The Monterey Bay Aquarium
The California Academy of Science
The Living Desert
The Humane Society*
The Georgia Aquarium
Perhaps the cutest of the animals depicted are the penguins who appear in several segments. Did you know that Betty arranged to transport the sea otters and penguins of New Orleans to Monterey after Katrina for treatment, including treatment for PTSD? And that the California Academy of Sciences did cataract surgery on a penguin? And that the Home Depot guy donated 250 million dollars to start the Georgia Aquarium in 2003?
But Where is Betty?
Betty White has mere cameo appearances; though, by the title of the documentary, you might hope she would be in nearly every scene – not to be. I estimate she appears in 5-10 minutes of the hour and a half video. When she does speak, it is noteworthy, though.
Did you know she has swum with a beluga whale named Beethoven? And she seems to have a special connection with horses, too.
White is active in a Chicago organization that puts autistic children on horses for physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy while veterans care for the horses.
The Documentary Itself
Animals covered include black bears, wolves, bison, dogs, horses, seal pups, rhinos, and sharks – and Michael Vick, in passing. White also says that if we don’t start taking care of sharks, shame on us – they are an ancient animal and generally receive only bad press.
Betty White is one short animal documentary after another, some with narration and some with only music but the mix is good. Fascinating photos interspersed with facts you didn’t know, like 82% of zoo animals are born in zoos, and both attending a cockfight and raising cocks to fight are legal in Texas and elsewhere: White says that young boys attending these spectacles (knife fights to the death) learn that cruelty is OK and that the suffering of others doesn’t matter. However, this is no reason to tolerate cockfighting.
And, Of Course, The Dogs
Betty White traces the history of dogs in war over the past 60 years: 1500 served during the Korean conflict, 4000 in Vietnam and, as of 2012, 578 in Iraq and Afghanistan. White goes on to talk about the love between soldier and dog (though the dogs are wearing choke chains) and the fact that military working dogs are abused and neglected less than their civilian counterparts (for what that’s worth!).
Caveat: DogEvals purchases products for review unless otherwise stated. This DVD was borrowed from the public library.
*These segments contain video that may be too violent for most children and even some adults.