Some students prefer their graduation photos to be a reflection of what they are as an individual. Such is the case for a university student in Texas who chose to pose in her graduation photos with a 13-foot alligator she befriended.
“Not your typical graduation picture, ” wrote Makenzie Alexis Noland in a post she shared via Facebook last Saturday, Aug. 4. She uploaded three photos: one of the alligator in an upright position and her making the thumbs up sign while smiling in front of the camera; another of her seemingly feeding the giant reptile what looks like a piece of chicken; and another of the 13-foot alligator balancing her class ring in its snout.
Her post, which has gone viral, had garnered over 2,200 likes and reactions, 1,200 comments and 6,700 shares, as of this writing.
Not your typical graduation picture 🤷🏽♀️ @ Gator Country
Apparently, Noland is set to graduate from Texas A&M University with a degree in wildlife ecology. Her photo with the giant reptile was taken at Gator Country in Beaumont, Texas, a park dedicated to capturing and rescuing nuisance alligators and other reptiles where she had interned since the beginning of summer.
This summer I am having the privilege of interning at gator country in Beaumont, Texas! These are some of my favorite pictures that I’ve taken since being here!
In another post she shared in May, she said that the name of the 13-foot alligator is Big Tex.
“This is big Tex the largest alligator we have at Gator Country measuring [13-feet 8.5 inches],” she said, uploading one video and four photos of her feeding the giant reptile with her supervisor Arlie Hammonds.
“Since I started here I’ve been working my way up trying to earn the trust of this big gator and today he let me feed him. This is no small task, in fact Tex is very picky about who can get in and feed him, but today a huge step was made all thanks to Arlie Hammonds.”
This is big Tex the largest alligator we have at Gator Country measuring 13ft 8.5in. Since I started here I’ve been…
Big Tex, the co-star of Noland’s graduation photos, is a feeding-habituated alligator. He lost his fear of humans after he got used to being fed by visitors and stealing chicken pieces off crab lines in his previous habitat. Because of this, he was relocated to Gator Country from his home, Champion Lake at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge, in October 2016. JB