Texas A&M student gigs 'em with gator for graduation photos

Senior takes graduation photos with one of her ‘best friends’ — a giant Texas gator | The Wichita Eagle

Gator grad: Aggie takes graduation photos with 14-foot alligator

Makenzie Noland celebrated her upcoming college graduation by posing in her cap and stole with her good friend "Big Tex" - a almost 14-foot-long alligator that lives in a wildlife sanctuary in Beaumont, Texas.

But it's Big Tex that steals the show - a gargantuan alligator who was adopted in 2016 after overfeeding turned him into a nuisance for local boats. Big Tex the gator is almost 14 feet long and weighs 1,000 pounds.

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"In all reality we don't want to bring these animals back, we want them to live in the bayous and canals out in the swampy areas", she said.

"He's one of my best friends here", the soon to be Aggies alumna told KTXS. Noland is an old hand with alligators who is about to receive her degree in wildlife ecology. I can kiss him on the snout.

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Noland told the BBC she initially intended her graduation pictures to serve as a showcase for the work she has been doing at the centre.

After working for weeks to gain the 1,000lb animal's trust, she now "feeds him, tickles his nose and gives him kisses" whenever she is at work. Oh, and balancing her class ring on his nose. Now, her photos have taken social media by storm. "I can call him up out of his den, and then we reward him, kind of like you reward your dog for sitting or something", Noland said. And some are not definitely not as friendly as Big Tex. "We're gentle with him". She waded knee-deep into a pond wearing her maroon cap and sash (no gown; that might have gotten too soggy) and posed with "Big Tex".

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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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