Mackenzie Noland alligator graduation pictures: Student poses with massive reptile

Makenzie Alexi Noland posing with alligator Big Tex after graduating from Texas A

In her "not typical" graduation picture, Makenzie Noland stood with a dear friend she once considered rather threatening.

A college senior in Texas has drawn quite a response as she posed for her graduation photos with a massive alligator. 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.

But Noland insists to Inside Edition that she was never in any danger.

"Whenever you're training a puppy, you commend them for sitting down and give them a treat", Noland explained.

A Facebook post from the refuge claims that Big Tex had "lost his fear of humans" because visitors were feeding him. Now, her photos have taken social media by storm.

She didn't elaborate what kind of "play" one engages in with a giant gator.

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"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.

The reptile appears to be happy with his set up at the new park, especially in the photos with Noland.

"Thank you to everyone who has shared my posts and given me all of this support", Noland wrote on Facebook. "We'd rather leave them in their natural habitat".

The Texas-sized gator weighs about 1,000 pounds and holds the national record for the "largest live-captured nuisance alligator", according to Gator Country, which is where Big Tex now lives.

Noland told the BBC she initially intended her graduation pictures to serve as a showcase for the work she has been doing at the centre. "If the animals aren't working well, then we're getting out of the water and letting them be".

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