WYNNEWOOD — Albert, a 12-foot alligator said to have starred in movies and TV commercials, has a new home after workers from G.W. Exotic Animal Park recovered him from a backyard pond in southeastern Oklahoma. Albert, 43, was the pet of Stuart resident Richard Beamon, 69, a taxidermist who died Wednesday. Family and friends didn’t know what to do with Albert, so they asked park workers to come and get him, said Joe Schreibvogel, park director. Beamon also had four exotic snakes that were taken to the animal park. Albert, estimated to weigh more than 800 pounds, had been living in a pond in Beamon’s back yard since he moved here from California about eight years ago, said Schreibvogel. "He’s the biggest I’ve ever seen,” Schreibvogel said. "I’m shocked he made it through the cold temperatures.” It’s not legal in Oklahoma to keep alligators as pets, a state wildlife official said. The state exempts a few zoos, aquariums and wildlife parks. Albert’s pond was in a rural area, and it had a sturdy new fence around it to keep Albert from getting loose, said John Reinke, park supervisor. The alligator is healthy and was well cared for, he said. Two park workers floated around in a rowboat trying to locate Albert in the pond. They borrowed a backhoe from an oil rig site down the road to break through the dam and drain the water. It took about 10 hours to drain the pond, wrangle the gator into the rescue trailer and get him to his new home. "It was pretty exciting,” said Reinke, who has been working at the park for three years. "Your heart starts pumping, and you start thinking, ‘Do they know how big this thing really is?’”
Man’s best friendFamily members told park workers Albert was Beamon’s best friend, and the alligator would come like a dog when called. Park workers said there are many stories surrounding Albert, including that he starred in the movies "Eraser” and "Undercover Blues” and a Toyota commercial. G.W. Exotic Animal Park takes in more than 300 animals a year, but it gets few calls for alligators, workers said. Most the park gets are small enough to keep in a bathtub. Albert will be kept in a heated, indoor facility at the park until temperatures warm up later this spring. Then he’ll be moved to an outdoor enclosure. Albert could live 50 more years, according to park workers.