Graduate explains senior photo with alligator

Ms Noland had been interning at alligator rescue park Gator Country. Source Facebook Makenzie Alexis Noland

Ms Noland has been interning with alligator rescue park Gator Country where she met Big Tex. Source Facebook Makenzie Alexis NolandMore

Noland is graduating from Texas A&M University with a major in wildlife ecology.

An animal-loving U.S. university student posed with a fully-grown alligator for some truly one-of-a-kind 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. Before she does, she waded into a pond with "Big Tex", an alligator that is almost 14 feet long.

Noland will graduate from the university August 10 with a degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences.

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

Gator Country Rescue is a 15-acre preserve that is well-known for being a safe haven for alligators and several other reptiles.

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

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.

In fact, Big Tex has actually always been a friendly gator, she said.

Since posting the photos to social media, Noland has gotten feedback from some people who love it and others who think what she's doing is insane. The video has had more than 10m views on Facebook since it was first posted.

Talking to Fox News, the female student, who has been training with the animal said she wasn't scared at all.

On Instagram and Facebook Aug. 3, Makenzie Noland posted photos of herself donning her cap and gown with a large alligator.

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

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