United States student poses with alligator for graduation photos

Senior takes graduation photos with one of her ‘best friends’ — a giant Texas gator | The Wichita Eagle

Senior takes graduation photos with one of her ‘best friends’ — a giant Texas gator | The Wichita Eagle

The wildlife ecology student at Texas A&M University had been interning at an alligator rescue centre in Beaumont, Texas, and was inspired to take the photo after developing a connection with one of the park's main attractions - "Big Tex".

Noland, who will be graduating from A&M this week with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences, worked with Tex every day since she arrived in Beaumont.

"It's something I'm super proud of", she told The Eagle in reference to her gator senior photos, because she and Big Tex were not best friends from the start. "When I'm telling Tex to "come here" using a hand motion I will reward him, tickle his nose and toss food in his mouth".

So does Noland. Her photo wasn't meant as an attention-getting stunt.

Noland's close bond with Tex influenced her decision to feature him in her graduation pictures. "He's a real-life dinosaur", Noland said, adding that she was honored to get the opportunity to work with him.

In fact, Big Tex has actually always been a friendly gator, she said.

Makenzie says she has been overwhelmed by the reaction to her posts, which have now been shared and liked hundreds of times.

According to Noland's social media posts, the beast has typically been temperamental with who feeds him, but described how she was able to build a relationship that allowed her to be one of the few that he trusted. "We'd rather leave them in their natural habitat".

"I wanted to highlight what I have been doing at my internship with Gator Country by taking those pictures with Tex", the Abilene, Texas resident told WFAA-Ch. "I'm trained", she said.

Her Instagram account shows her pictured with snakes. "Animals can react differently to different situations".

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