College Grad Takes Graduation Photos With A 1,000-Pound Alligator

Makenzie Noland is a 21-year-old student at Texas A&M University in College Station who will be graduating on August 10th with a degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences. Since May, Noland has been interning at a local wildlife rescue center called Gator Country in Beaumont, Texas. One very important connection that she formed at her internship was with Big Tex, a 13-foot, 8.5-inch, 1,000-pound alligator.

In fact, Noland even enlisted the help of her gator friend for her graduation photos.

Yes, that is Noland’s class ring on Big Tex’s nose.

Said Noland, “I thought it would make for a great way to highlight what I have done at my internship as well as showing how excited I am for graduating at Texas A&M, I do this every day, but this time I was wearing a dress!”

Noland started training with Big Tex on her first day at Gator Country and now regularly hosts feeding shows with the animal for sanctuary visitors.

Big Tex is the biggest alligator in the country who’s been caught alive, which would frighten most people, but not Noland.

Noland said, “I call him over, talk all sweet to him, tickle his nose, and reassure him that I’m not going to hurt him. I’ve been bitten by 8-inch hatchlings, which hurt, but never by Tex.”

Gator Country owner Arlie Hammonds is the photographer behind these incredible images. Initially, he proposed the idea of a photo with the ring on the alligator’s nose. Although, Noland went a step further and donned her cap and A&M sash.

When asked whether he thought the animal would eat the ring or toss it into the water, Hammonds said, “I’m in there with him eight days a week. I’d like to think I know him. He’s a real sweetheart.”

Noland has said that she hopes to work at the Dallas or Fort Worth zoos after graduating.

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