Cincinnati Zoo Honors Betty White by Naming New Penguin Chick After Her Golden Girls Role

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Betty White Penguin
Betty White Penguin

CINCINNATI Zoo

The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden is paying tribute to America's golden girl.

On Monday, the Ohio zoo announced in a news release that it recently named its one-month-old blue penguin Rose in remembrance of late actress Betty White, who was widely known for playing Rose Nylund on the iconic sitcom The Golden Girls. The zoo revealed the name on Jan. 17 — what would have been White's 100th birthday.

White died on Dec. 31 at age 99, after a cerebrovascular accident, according to her death certificate obtained by PEOPLE.

betty white
betty white

getty Betty White

In the release, Cincinnati Zoo director, Thane Maynard, revealed that White, a devoted animal lover, had supported the zoo throughout her life.

"Betty White was a huge zoo supporter and animal lover," Maynard said in a statement.

"I had the pleasure of making her acquaintance years ago when she attended a Cincinnati Zoo fundraiser. We introduced her to our first ambassador cheetah, Angel," he added.

RELATED: How Betty White Viewed the Aging Process and Had No Fear of 'The Secret' of Death

Rose the blue penguin will soon move into her zoo habitat, where she will join more than 30 other penguins. Once the weather begins to warm up, zoo guests will have the chance to see the baby bird. Blue penguins are native to the coastlines of Australia and New Zealand, warmer climates than where their emperor penguin relatives reside.

Betty White Penguin
Betty White Penguin

CINCINNATI Zoo

Following White's death, positive statements from animal rights groups poured in, highlighting the star's decades-long work in animal welfare and conservation.

RELATED: 'Her Legacy Will Have a Lasting Impact': Animal Groups Remember Betty White's Lifelong Support

Kind words from the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA), the nonprofit partner of the Los Angeles Zoo, were among the tributes honoring the actress. White started partnering with the California zoo on projects in 1966 and officially joined GLAZA's Board of Trustees in 1974.

"We are incredibly saddened to hear about Betty's passing this morning and want to offer our deepest condolences to her family and friends as we collectively mourn the loss of a true legend, on and off the screen," Tom Jacobson, president of GLAZA, said in a statement obtained by PEOPLE.

"Her work with the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association spans more than five decades, and we are grateful for her enduring friendship, lifelong advocacy for animals, and tireless dedication to supporting our mission," he added.

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