/24-7/ -- The G.W. Exotic Animal park received a call for help by the friends of Richard "Rick" Beamon of Stuart Oklahoma. Some time within the past week or so Rick had an accident involving a chain saw leaving him deceased in his back pasture with family and friends not knowing what happened or where he was. The Hughes County Sherriff office along with friends of Ricks found him laying in his back pasture not knowing just how many days he had been laying there in the Oklahoma ice storm.
In Ricks back yard, he kept his very best friend "Albert" a 12 foot 1 inch long, 43 year old Alligator weighing in at nearly 800 pounds living in a pond in the back yard. Concerned about his well being the family friends called upon the G.W. Exotic Animal Park in Wynnewood Oklahoma to come rescue Albert and give him and the other reptiles a good home as Rick would be worried about the care of all of his friends.
As this story goes, the volunteers from G.W. scrambled together to get their gear and things they thought they might need to rescue an alligator and headed off for an adventure some had never been on. Expecting a 5 or 6 foot alligator when they arrived they found nothing close to what they were expecting.
Here lies Albert a 12 foot some 800 pound alligator in a very large pond enclosed with a fence to keep him safe. With nothing in the crews hearts but compassion for animals, no job was to big for the volunteers from the G.W. Park. With the temperature dropping by the minute and the sun going down fast, two of the volunteers got into a small plastic boat which was taking on water fast, set out for the middle of the pond to try to catch Albert.
They located Albert several times but the water was to cold and deep to properly put a rope around him to pull him from the water. As the sun dropped and the temperature got colder, Joe Schreibvogel, Park Director of G.W. made a decision to go look for a neighbor with a back hoe to cut a hole in the bank and drain the water. Working just down the road at a local oil rig was the ex-police chief of Sulphur Oklahoma. He and his crew was more than willing to bring their back hoe to the rescue of Albert.
The crew of G.W. already wet and dealing with hypothermia along with being covered with mud they were excited to see the back hoe arrive. The oil workers cut a trench in the dam draining most of the water from the pond, the two volunteers from the park setting in a sinking boat was able to finally get a rope around Albert's head allowing them to finally get him safe to shore.
Except one problem, the pond had drained to the point they had chest high mud between them and safety, the next problem was how to get to shore. The oil rig workers tied a rope to the back hoe and threw it to the volunteers in the boat, caring more for the safety of Albert, they tied the rope to Albert allowing the oil workers to pull Albert to safety. After getting Albert up on land the next task was how to rescue two freezing wet, covered in mud volunteers from a tiny plastic boat in the middle of a very large mud puddle.
The volunteers who had been wading in mud up to their chest and already had to be pulled out of the mud with the back hoe tossed a rope to the two in the boat and pulled them as close as they could to the shore, leaving them one option and that is to jump in the mud and hope they make it to shore. Pulling them to shore with their hands cramping from the cold and unable to hang on they finally make it to shore. Again with no concern for their own well being all of the volunteers and oil workers began worrying about how cold Albert was.
On the back of the pickup of one of the oil workers had a big tank of drinking water they used on the rig, with no second thought they took their own drinking water and washed Albert off and covered him with blankets to keep him warm. Finally Albert looked like he was going to be safe but the last task was to get this giant alligator in the rescue trailer. The exhausted crew looped ropes around their necks and lifted the best they could to get the giant beast into the trailer. It took several try's but Albert 9 hours later laid in soft blankets bedded down with straw in an enclosed trailer of safety.
Rick's friend "Danny" got the workers in Rick's house and let them wash up the best they could, most of the clothes the volunteers were wearing would have to be thrown away but standing in front of a gas heater telling stories about how Rick loved his animals seemed to warm all the hearts of anyone who was cold.
Lasting more than 12 hours the crew from the G.W. Park made their way back to Wynnewood where the next morning the task still ahead of them was to put Albert into his new home. That next day with 5 news stations and 6 news papers watching what was not just a normal alligator being unloaded but a famous one at that. Albert has starred in movies such as "The Eraser" with Arnold Schwarzenegger and Toyota Commercials along with many others.
12 volunteers with the G.W. Park unloaded Albert with the best of care and carrying him only 5 feet at a time without having to stop and take a rest this gator was so large. Later that next morning Albert was enjoying a fresh bath laying in his new indoor pool of the Steve Irwin Memorial Complex which was built at the park in 1997 housing 11 other alligators.
With such an incredible story the Parks Director would like to extend thanks to the family of Rick of putting the trust in them that Albert will live on for many more years carrying on the memory of Mr, Richard Beamon to hundreds of thousands of visitors at the Animal Park. Ricks memorial page is at www.gwpark.org/rickbeamon.html .
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