A college senior in Texas has drawn quite a response as she posed for her graduation photos with a massive alligator.
Mackenzie Noland, 21, who majored in wildlife ecology, is spending her summer interning at Gator Country, an alligator sanctuary in Beaumont, Texas.
“He’s one of my best friends here,” Noland said of Big Tex, the sanctuary’s nearly 14-foot-long gator that weighs 1,000 pounds. “I thought it was a great way to commutate my summer here.”
She added: “Big Tex has a world record for the largest alligator caught alive. It is definitely pretty intimidating when you are standing next to an alligator who has a mouth full of 80 sharp teeth that can slam down with almost 3,000 pounds [of pressure] per square inch.”
But Noland insists to Inside Edition that she was never in any danger.
“It took me about two to three weeks to build up that courage and walk in that water and have Tex be okay with me in there,” she said. “I wouldn’t be doing any of this stuff if I thought I was in danger.”
The Texas A&M grad showed Inside Edition how the photos were taken and shared her secret to getting the gator calm: feeding the beast whole hog meat.
The photographer, Arlie Hammonds, is co-owner of Gator Country.
“It is really special that he trusts her enough to get in that water,” Hammonds said.
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