Student who posed with giant alligator for graduation photos says 'he's like a puppy'
Makenzie Alexis Noland says her graduation photo shoot allowed her to give people a glimpse of her love for nature and show the relationship she shares with Tex, the alligator
We all love to have a graduation picture that we will never forget and it looks like Makenzie Alexis Noland managed to click the one that not only her but anyone who came across the picture will never forget. Makenzie, a wildlife ecology major who will graduate from Texas A&M University, decided to take pictures with her favorite animal friend, a 14-foot-long alligator. She shared pictures which showed her posing with an enormous alligator named Tex at Gator Country. She captioned the picture: “Not your typical graduation picture."
While many were surprised to see Makenzie posing next to an alligator, there were others who raised concern over the photoshoot being extremely unsafe.
However, Makenzie says she knew what she was doing because, according to her, Big Tex has the personality of a “puppy". Speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, she said that the 15-minute photo shoot was taken by her boss Arlie Hammonds. Over the past three weeks, I had gained Tex’s trust and felt comfortable in the water,” she said. Handling Tex happens to be on the job profile of Makenzie at Gator Country, a Beaumont-based rescue center where “nuisance animals" are brought in to be taken care of.
According to the outlet, Tex was rescued in 2016 from the Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in Liberty because he was spotted begging for food from people who came on boats. Now, he lives on a diet and with people who are there to always feed him. From her internship, apart from gaining Tex's trust, Makenzie has also learned some of the techniques to make sure that the alligator is under control.
"Before we catch the alligator, it does its ‘death roll’ which is a defense mechanism that tires them out,” she said. Speaking to Fox News, Makenzie stated that she often sees Tex as a puppy because he listens to her command. "Whenever you're training a puppy, you commend them for sitting down and give them a treat," she said. "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."
Makenzie's graduation photo shoot allowed her to give people a glimpse of her love for nature and show the relationship she shares with Tex. "Every single time I get in the water with him, I realize how huge of a creature he is. He's a real-life dinosaur," she said, adding that she felt honored to get the chance to work with him. Looking at the reactions she received from people over her picture has motivated Mackenzie to educate people about wildlife animals.
"These alligators are a product of people feeding them," she said. "We'd rather leave them in their natural habitat." As for people who expressed their concern over the idea of taking the picture was not safe, Makenzie assured that she is fine. "I would never do anything to risk my own life. I'm doing things supervised. I'm trained," she said. "Animals can react differently to different situations. We look at all that behavior. If the animals aren't working well, then we're getting out of the water and letting them be."