Saturday, 20 October, 2018

College student takes graduation photos with massive gator

Makenzie Alexi Noland posing with alligator Big Tex after graduating from Texas A Senior takes graduation photos with one of her ‘best friends’ — a giant Texas gator | The Wichita Eagle
Ellis Copeland | 09 August, 2018, 13:34

In her "not typical" graduation picture, Makenzie Noland stood with a dear friend she once considered rather threatening.

Makenzie Noland had a graduation picture taken of her standing knee deep in water - with a giant alligator.

"I get in the water with that animal every day - he's one of my best friends there!" she tells the BBC, shrugging off a question about being scared.

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.

Why did she, um, want to snap photos with a gator?

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.

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

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"Whenever you're training a puppy, you commend them for sitting down and give them a treat", Noland explained.

It was only a matter of time - a few weeks, to be exact - before she was tickling his nose and giving him food and kisses.

The aspiring zookeeper graduates next week and is already looking forward to the next opportunity to visit Big Tex. Noland said she has a very special bond with the animal after her time with Gator Country. In another, she pets the gator's snout.

To mark her graduation this Friday, she posed in her cap and sash with the animal and thousands have since shared the Facebook post.

This is big Tex the largest alligator we have at Gator Country measuring 13ft 8.5in.

The alligator was caught at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in October 2016 because he had become "a little too friendly", according to a Facebook post from the refuge.

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