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Recovery of pet alligator becomes large-scale effort

BY JENNIFER GRISWOLD Modified: February 6, 2009 at 11:06 am •  Published: February 6, 2009
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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.