Betty White Fund to help rare saiga antelope in Kazakhstan

HollywoodNews.com: Having already funded research on the health of dolphins affected by the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund will now help the rare saiga antelope in Kazakhstan. More than 12,000 critically endangered saiga antelopes were found dead in western Kazakhstan in May of this year.

“Everyone knows how much I love dogs and cats, but wildlife species have a special place in my heart, too,” said Betty White. “It is such an honor to contribute to a fund that can rapidly address wildlife health needs in times of crisis.”

The rapid response fund, established by Morris Animal Foundation in honor of longtime trustee Betty White, will begin supporting Fauna & Flora International’s efforts to study this rare and beautifully unique antelope in Kazakhstan. Saigas have experienced one of the fastest declines recorded for mammals in recent decades: a 95 percent decrease in population over the past 20 years. This distinctive-looking antelope, which has a large, trunk-like nose that hangs over its mouth, once numbered in the millions and migrated in herds up to 100,000 strong across the plains of Central Asia and Russia. Sadly, the species has dwindled to about 80,000 globally since the early 1990s.

Morris Animal Foundation established the Betty White Wildlife Rapid Response Fund to give wildlife researchers timely monetary aid to respond to unexpected events, such as natural disasters and emerging diseases, which result in the immediate need for animal health research. The Foundation is one of the only organizations in the world funding health-specific research for wild species. Since 1967, Foundation-funded research has advanced the health of our planet’s wildlife — and, in some cases, has ensured the very survival of a species.

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