Throwing black hats on graduation day is quite a cliche, right? So, a Texas student decided to do something very unusual — took photos with an alligator! Yes, 21-year-old Makenzie Noland, who will be graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in wildlife and fisheries sciences, made sure it was an affair to remember by posing with a 14-ft-long alligator at a sanctuary in Beaumont. Now, her photos have taken social media by storm.
Noland has been living at Gator Country for the past three months as she interns with the Beaumont rescue center, which is home to about 450 alligators, crocodiles, and other reptiles. During her internship, she developed a strong bond with this alligator named Tex, and to celebrate the occasion, she decided to take a few snaps with it who she dubbed as a ‘sweetheart’, and ‘best friend.’
Her photos with the giant reptile were shared on Facebook and Instagram recently and quickly went viral for the obvious reasons. With over 6,000 shares, at the time of writing, she wrote, “Not your typical graduation picture 🤷🏽♀️ @ Gator Country.”
Talking to Fox News, the female student, who has been training with the animal said she wasn’t scared at all. “Tex is the one who let me into his pond. He does pick favourites, and I’m honoured he likes me enough to let me get in there and play with him every day,” she said.
“Whenever you’re training a puppy, you commend them for sitting down and give them a treat,” Noland explained as to how comfortable she is with the reptile. “When I’m telling Tex to ‘come here’ using a hand motion I will reward him, tickle his nose and toss food in his mouth.”
— kenz (@KenzieAlexisss) August 6, 2018
However, she is not from Texas where seeing alligators and crocodiles in parks and homes is a common affair. Growing up in Bellevue, Nebraska she, however, underlined she was always fond of animals. “Starting from a young age I was always picking up snakes, holding animals, talking to kids and educating the public,” she told BBC.
Reactions to the photos have been mixed. While many were surprised to see the bond between them, others feared that many might misinterpret it and try to attempt the same. It must be noted that Noland was in the presence of the gator amid experts and was trained in a particular manner to deal with the wild animal.