Published: Wed, August 08, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Makenzie Noland has graduation photo taken with alligator Big Tex

Makenzie Noland has graduation photo taken with alligator Big Tex

With graduation a highlight for many students, it makes sense to get fun and creative with graduation pictures.

Noland wore her school colors, Texas A&M sash and graduation cap for the shoot, which took place in the middle of Big Tex's swamp.

- It took an entire summer to gain the trust of the biggest gator at a wildlife rescue, and one college student made a decision to celebrate her graduation with the reptile. With over 6,000 shares, at the time of writing, she wrote, "Not your typical graduation picture ‍♀️ @ Gator Country".

Makenzie Nolan says she's grown close to Big Tex since she began her internship at Gator country, which is a gator rescue centre in Beaumont.

She added: "Big Tex has a world record for the largest alligator caught alive".

Like many college seniors on the brink of graduation, Makenzie is looking for a job; she would love to work at the Fort Worth Zoo or Dallas Zoo.


Over the past several months, Noland has been training with Tex - under the careful supervision of alligator experts. Now, her photos have taken social media by storm.

Tex - who is the largest live "nuisance" gator in captivity - was brought to the center in October 2016 after losing his fear of humans after people kept feeding him.

She told the BBC that Big Tex responds to his name and reacts to her hand signals when she strolls into his pond to feed him.

Why did she, um, want to snap photos with a gator? "I'm trained", she said. "He does pick favorites, and I'm honored he likes me enough to let me get in there and play with him every day", Noland told Fox News. "He's a real-life dinosaur".

And it has been the ideal place for Mackenzie who said she has always been "picking up snakes and holding animals" from an early age. I'm doing things supervised.

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