Makenzie Noland is getting ready to graduate from Texas A&M with a degree in Wildlife and Fisheries Sciences and decided to show off her love of animals in her graduation photos. Makenzie spent the past three months interning, and living at Gator Country, an organization that helps rescue and rehabilitate alligators. During her time at Gator Country, she worked with hundreds of gators but clearly had a favorite in Big Tex, a 13'8" 900-pound behemoth that was brought the alligator sanctuary in 2016 after he became "too friendly" with people.
"Tex is the one who let me into his pond. He does pick favorites, and I'm honored he likes me enough to let me get in there and play with him every day," Noland told Fox News.
She explained that she trained the giant reptile, which she likened to a dinosaur, by offering him treats when he followed her commands.
"Whenever you're training a puppy, you commend them for sitting down and give them a treat," Noland explained. "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."
Nolan shared her graduation photos on Instagram and they quickly went viral.
Some people were concerned for her safety after they saw the photos of her playing with Tex but Makenzie assured them that she was following all the safety guidelines and was never in any danger.
"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."