"It's such a pleasure to meet you," Hite told White. "I was out of work for nine months, and this kicked off, and you put me back to work."
"Well I'm delighted," said White. "Hey, and you're doing a beautiful job."
At the gorilla habitat, White was mobbed by visitors, all wanting to take a picture with the octogenarian actress.
We asked White what it was like to have so many young people clamoring for a moment with her.
"I'm the oldest old broad on the face of the earth," White said. "I'm 88-and-a-half, and a lot of these people -- the kids have grown up with me, and their parents have grown up with me, and their grandparents have grown up with me. I'm a fixture as far as they're concerned. And that's why they kind of feel that we're, you know, close."
If you've ever wondered whether her many quips were White's own, or came from the minds of writers, this outing answered that. She's quick and spontaneous, scolding a tapir at one point. "She's not supposed to eat in bed," the actress explained.
Her lines have that signature Betty White devilish twinkle. It's a twinkle Americans have been in love with for a very long time. And White shows no sign of slowing down.
"I have a bawdy sense of humor," said White. "I have to keep my mental editor awake at all times, and sometimes he dozes off. But I love double entendre. If somebody gets it, they laugh and think it's funny, and if they don't get it, who knows -- and it doesn't matter. But double entendre has kind of gone by the wayside. Now it's all -- they let it all hang out and practically explain it to you. But that's just a matter of personal taste."
We asked White if she considers her current work a comeback.
"I've been working steady for 63 years," White said. "But everybody says, 'Oh, it's such a renaissance.' Maybe I went away and didn't know it."
White said she never felt like retiring.
"I just enjoy what I do too much," she said. "You can't ... If they want me to go away, just stop asking me."
Turning to the subject of love, we asked White about losing her husband, game show host Allen Ludden, who died in 1981. She never remarried.
"When you've had the best, who needs the rest?" she said. "I've had friends, and I certainly haven't been living in a closet."
Her "mental editor" suddenly kicked in, and she laughed.
"Well, that was an unfortunate thing to say."
Not that White won't admit to a certain glowing ember. We asked her whether there was anything in show business she wanted to do that she hasn't.
"I always have one answer for that question: that's Robert Redford," White said.
Meaning star opposite Robert Redford?
"That's not necessarily what I meant, but if that works for you, fine!" she said, laughing.
Earlier this month, White became the sole surviving "Golden Girl" when Rue McClanahan died at age 76.
"Ruesie, Rue McClanahan, she was very special," said White. "And she and I, she was our butterfly. I talked to her like three days before we lost her, and her speech was beginning to come back, and she had the massive stroke after the triple bypass. But, we lost her, so I'm the last, I'm the survivor. And it's so ironic, because I was the oldest of all four of them.
"Isn't that silly?"