Barker's dedication doesn't just extend to four-legged, furry pets; he wants to help all animals in need, whether they are big, small, winged, gilled or something else

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“Help control the pet population, have your pets spayed or neutered,” are familiar words to game show fans and anyone who stayed home sick from school watching The Price Is Right.

These are the wise words Bob Barker closed every show with during his 35-year run, and they are representative of his lifelong love for helping animals. Through his own organization the DJ&T Foundation, Barker, 92, has helped subsidize thousands of spays and neuters across the United States. But Barker’s dedication doesn’t just extend to four-legged, furry pets; he wants to help all animals in need, whether they are big, small, winged, gilled or something else.

The animal protection organization Animal Defenders International (ADI) is an ideal partner for Barker, who has helped fund many of its rescue operations – saving elephants, lions, bears and other animals caught in cruel, abusive environments. One of the group’s most recent successes involved saving two spectacled bears from an illegal zoo in South America, where they were found malnourished in tiny cages. These bears, Lucho and Sabina, were released into expansive enclosures in the Peruvian forest on Barker’s 92nd birthday.

PEOPLE talked with Barker about how his work with cats and dogs has grown into helping animals of all sizes, and how he will always be proud of his “Guru of Spay and Neuter” title.

What are some projects you have worked on with Animal Defenders International?

I’ve worked on a long list of things with them and it has all been very productive. I think ADI is probably one of the finest animal protection organizations in the world. I know its reputation is just excellent. They get things done. A lot of organizations have ideas. ADI doesn’t just have splendid ideas, it produces. I am proud to be associated with them.

How did you find out about ADI and decide to get involved?

I heard about them and everything I heard about them was very flattering. And then I heard they were going to have to close their office in the United States because they didn’t have the funds to keep it open, so I called them and made a contribution and helped to keep their U.S. office open, and it took off from there.

Why is ADI’s work so important?

It’s on behalf of animals. Anything that we can do to make this world a better place for animals is very important. Animals of all kinds. I help animal organizations of every description. I help protect all living things – birds, creatures of the sea – you name it.

I, like millions of other people, was born with a deep love for animals, all of them. I have loved them all my life. When I was a kid, I used to pick up strays and help animals that were injured. I feel sorry for people who don’t love and enjoy animals, because they are missing such a wonderful part of life.

What part did you play in ADI’s recent rescue of circus bears in South America?

My contribution to that was financial. I didn’t go to South America.

When they brought the lions back from South America from the illegal zoos to the Denver airport, I was there to greet them. What a thrill that was when those huge, beautiful animals started to come off that plane — everybody had tears in their eyes. It was a huge victory for ADI and a wonderful new life for these poor lions. They had suffered for years in circuses, caged up in small cages. Here they are, arriving in Colorado and where did they go? To a nearby habitat where they are now living the life. They are roaming the countryside with other lions. I was there for their release, and some of these lions had never touched the ground because they had been in a cage all their lives.

I’ve worked on countless animal efforts. I have my own foundation, the DJ & T Foundation, and for many years we subsidized spays and neuters. I started working on spay-neuters years ago. On The Price Is Right, I closed the show with the message, “Help control the pet population, have your pets spayed or neutered.” It caught on. I became known as the “Guru of Spay and Neuter.” I formed a foundation that subsidized spay-neuters all over the United States, through local organizations. It has really made a difference, I think.

Over-population of cats and dogs is one of the worst problems for animals in our world. There are people all over the United States trying to find homes for cats and dogs, and as hard as they work, they are doomed to disappointment because not all those homes exist. The only answer is spay-neuter and that is why I work so hard on that.

What are some of your upcoming projects with animals?

I get calls almost daily about projects, and I do what I can all over the world. Right here, we have one of the best sanctuaries for elephants in the whole word. Elephants need room, and PAWS Sanctuary in Northern California has elephants there that are roaming the hillsides, just the way it should be. They are tearing up trees, rolling in the grass, playing in ponds and mud holes. You won’t see happier elephants anywhere. If it is an animal problem, and I can help, I do.

Do you have any pets of your own?

At the moment, I do not. I had two wonderful rabbits. One died a few years ago, but Mr. Rabbit, he lasted for 10 years. He would run all over the house. I just opened up the doors and let him go. There are little things torn up all over the house. Rabbits love to chew. I think that is one of the reasons he lived so long. He had a life that very few rabbits in captivity have. He had a spot in my bedroom where he would run to and sit, and that’s when I was expected to pet him.

I have a little office here at home, and I look around at various files and there are little parts of them chewed up and I couldn’t care less. He had a wonderful life and I had a wonderful time having him as a companion.

What advice do you have for others who want to help animals, but aren’t sure where to start?

If there is an animal protection organization of any type in your town, go and see if it can use some help. You can clean cages or walk animals or you can help financially. There are plenty of opportunities to help animals if you just look around your own town.