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Texas student includes 14-foot long gator in graduation photos

Texas student includes 14-foot long gator in graduation photos

She had been interning at Gator Country, where she met Big Tex, who at 13ft 8.5in (4.18 metres) is the largest alligator at the Beaumont-based rescue centre.

"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".

"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.

"I worked with this alligator every day, and I figured, 'Why not wear a dress this time and celebrate my graduation with this incredible animal?'" she explained.

Over the past several months, Noland has been training with Tex - under the careful supervision of alligator experts.

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. But as time went on and as they both got more comfortable with each other, she would start "scooting closer".

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"It's just like how your dog would treat you if you treat him well", Noland told The Eagle.

In one photo, the daring undergraduate is shown putting her graduating class ring on the giant reptile's nose.

Her graduation snaps (!) were taken by Gator Rescue boss Arlie Hammons, who waded into Tex's pool to get the ideal shot.

Her photos have almost 4,000 shares and over 1,000 likes on Facebook in just three days. Under the photos, she wrote "Not your typical graduation picture". But Noland tickles Tex's nose and tosses food into his mouth to reward him for good behavior.

The photographer, Arlie Hammonds, is co-owner of Gator Country.

Makenzie learned Big Tex's favorite tricks and he warmed up to her, but she said all the gators have different personalities - and some are not definitely not as friendly.


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