updated 11/22/2011 AT 4:00 PM ET
•originally published 11/23/2011 AT 9:00 AM ET
Anyone who knows Betty White knows her love of animals runs deep – and now, the actress wants to ignite that passion in others.
With her new book, Betty & Friends: My Life at the Zoo, the former Golden Girl shares photos and stories of her animal acquaintances, and hopes to get the word out on the amazing work that zoos do.
“Modern zoos of today are not like the old, old, old zoos,” she tells PEOPLE. “Lot of people have the impression they don’t like zoos because animals shouldn’t be kept in captivity; they should be in their natural habitat. But what they don’t realize is that the zoos not only exhibit animals, but they work in that natural habitat to save small populations of endangered species. They save many animals from going extinct.”