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Businesswoman Ditches Career For Giant Gators | BEAST BUDDIES


SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Do people think I have
lost my mind? Absolutely. People think that I am going through a midlife crisis. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: I am 42 years old. Who wants to go out and play with alligators and venomous snakes? I do. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Oh, well, before Gator
country, my nails were always perfect, always nice and clean. Now you look, they have got
a bit of blood in them, little bit of dirt in them, got little bit of blood in my hair
too. I had to cut up a hog this morning for the Gators. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: My name is Shannon Williamson, I am 42 years old and I am from Beaumont, Texas. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: About a year ago, I worked
in an HR company where I had about 700 employees that I dealt with on a daily basis. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: I met Gary; he is the
owner of Gator Country. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: He brought me into this
world where I fell in love with these animals. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: I tried to get up and
do my HR job, put on my dress, put on my heels and go to work. Then one day I just said,
‘I am not going back.’ GARY SAURAGE: Shannon had this crazy job,
like; she went all around and hobnobbed with all of these well-to-do folks. And I really
never did think that a person that was doing all of what she was doing, would give that
up to come live in the mud. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Gator Country is a place
where we rescue alligators, we rescue snakes, we rescue all kinds of reptiles. What did
I think of Gary at first? Well, I pull up in this parking lot at a really nice restaurant
and he pulled up beside me in this huge Dodge Dually wrapped in alligator. And I thought,
‘Oh, my goodness! Look at this redneck.’ SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Well, that lunch date
ended up being 8 hours long. GARY SAURAGE: After several months of being
at Gator Country, she finally got this incredible want to have her own alligator. And I thought,
‘Okay! Go pick you one.’ She came home and she said, ‘Okay! I got my alligator.
There is the one I want.’ He is 11 feet, 7 inches, weighs 550 lbs. I am thinking, ‘Couldn’t
we have started a little smaller?’’ SHANNON WILLIAMSON: So, this is Mr. Cuddles.
When I first started working with the Gators, I was terrified. I could feel my knees shaking. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: He is probably my second
best friend in the world besides Gary. Mr.Cuddles took to me and I took to him. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: If you look at him, he
looks like a Chihuahua. GARY SAURAGE: No, he doesn’t look like a
Chihuahua. This animal has got 80 teeth and he bites down with 3000 lbs. per square inch,
make no mistake. This is not a Chihuahua. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: So an alligator sees side
to side. They have peripheral vision. They don’t see you when you are standing in front
of them. So when I get to the side of him, he can see me. But when I standing in front
of him, he can’t see me. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: You see this bucket right
here? That’s Mr. Cuddles reward. Every time he does good, Mr. Cuddles get rewarded. So
he is learning. I am teaching him. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: And that’s how Mr Cuddles
has been working with me, day-by-day, every day. And he loves it. I love it. There is
nothing like the first time you get up there with that animal. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: And you actually get in
that pond and you touch that animal. You don’t know how they are going to move. You are scared to death. But let me tell you, it was the most amazing feeling. JESSICA HAMMONDS: From heels to rain boots,
yeah, it’s, it was a shock, quite a shock. But she has come along. I didn’t think she
would ever get involved with the alligators but she tried it. And I guess once you try,
I mean, you just kind of, you get hooked. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: This is a Reticulated
Python. He is from South-East Asia. He is probably about 15 feet right now and he is
a quick snake. So, let’s give him a little pat here. Hey, Sher Khan. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: One of the three top longest
snakes in the world. I want to grab his tail, let him know I am here and we will get him out. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: So if you noticed, he
is pretty quick. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Very long snake. It’s
Sher Khan. GARY SAURAGE: These snakes have 90 teeth in
their mouth and they all angle backwards. Once they lock down, you are not getting out of
that bite. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: We are going to put him
in this box and we are going to clean out his cage. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: So he is in his box. Constrictors like to wrap around you and compress. So when he got around me, he started compressing but
I needed to control his head because his bite is a little bit worse. He is very long so
he wrapped real good around me. GARY SAURAGE: The best thing that you just
did, the one thing that completely saves you was that you had his head here and your arm
stayed extended and you didn’t panic. That’s the worst thing I have ever seen happen with
a constricted snake in this park. It really is. I have never SHANNON WILLIAMSON: You have never seen it. GARY SAURAGE: I have never seen it actually
be able to control someone’s movement like that. The snake was so aggressive just then.
It actually had itself but it was looking for her arm. Had it been able to get in her
arm then we went to another level. I can tell you from my stance, that was almost dangerous. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: That was a unique situation.
He has never really constricted around me. So usually when I have him by his head, he
is pretty, he is pretty controllable. So it was fun. Let’s move on. GARY SAURAGE: I have never been bit by a venomous
snake. Now I have been bit by the constrictors and I have been tore up by alligators. But no venomous snake and I don’t plan to let that happen either. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: All right. So these are
American alligators. These are some of our smaller alligators that we have in here that
we are training to handle and I like to go in there and sit down with them sometimes.
They will crawl up in my lap and I’ll feed them with small tongs. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: So we are going to come
in here with the injured alligators. These are probably my second favourite, besides
the venomous snakes and Mr. Cuddles of course. I am going to show you about them. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: So this Gary right here,
take a look at his face. He was pretty injured. He got shot by a gun. We got him all healed
up, he is eating and this will be his first time out to a real pond in probably about
five or six months. So let’s go take him out to the pond – introduce him to his new friends.
He is ready. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: So this right here is our 4 to 6 foot pond. This is what rehabilitation is all about. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Watch him, going to make
some new friends in his natural environment right there. That’s what rehabilitation
is all about, guys. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Do I miss my old career?
Absolutely not. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Everyday is a different
day here. SHANNON WILLIAMSON: Every day I wake up so
thankful. I roll out of bed and I look forward everyday to come into work. This is not even
work to me. This is fun, this is love and this is family.

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