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Betty White's birthday prompted dozens of donations to Gibsons wildlife centre

Thank you, Betty White, for giving a hoot
Dexted the barred owl
Barred owls often get hit by cars in the winter months and require care at the Gibsons Wildlife Rehab Centre.

Mid-January isn’t usually a banner time for donations at Gibsons Wildlife Rehab Centre, but thanks to Betty White, this year it was. 

When the legendary TV actor died three weeks shy of her 100th birthday, the internet rose up to celebrate her Jan. 17 birthday anyway with the Betty White Challenge. Folks were encouraged to donate at least $5 to one of their local animal rescue organizations as White was a lifelong animal lover and activist. 

The Gibsons centre received $2,500 in donations on that day – but what was exceptional wasn’t the just amount, it was how many people donated. 

“It was small donations, but they added up,” says centre co-founder Irene Davy. Donations poured in that day – some as small as $5 but most in the $20 range.  

And the people who donated largely weren’t regular contributors to the non-profit.

“I hardly recognized any names,” says Davy. “So that’s quite nice.”

The non-profit, which has saved more than 10,000 animals over three decades, runs solely off of donations, so every dollar helps the animals in care. 

Birds of prey on the property – like the barred owls that often come in for care in November and December after getting hit by cars – need two to four mice a day. Each mouse costs a dollar. (Though larger birds of prey get sent to a larger mainland outfit.)

In the summer, the centre gets great blue heron babies that fall from their nests or get attacked by eagles. So, Davy says they end up buying 100 pounds of herring every two to three weeks for hundreds of dollars to feed the young birds. 

And there’s an always rotating cast of raccoons, ducks, songbirds and other animals passing through the longtime local institution. 

For more information about Gibsons Wildlife Rehab Centre visit

– Bronwyn Beairsto