Texas A&M grad takes senior photo with alligator

Senior takes graduation photos with one of her ‘best friends’ — a giant Texas gator | The Wichita Eagle

She recently posted the photos on social media with the caption: "Not your typical graduation picture". The photos showed her standing next to an enormous alligator named Tex at Gator Country, a Beaumont-based rescue center where Noland has interned since May.

Rather than cuddling up to a random reptile, Noland is in fact posing an alligator she describes as "one of my best friends here" - sanctuary resident "Big Tex". Since its publication on Friday, Noland's post has more than 200 shares and it only keeps growing.

The daring graduation photo went viral over the weekend as Noland prpared to walk across the convocation stage to receive her bachelor's degree.

The 21-year-old student took her photos with a 14-foot-long alligator.

Tex even let Noland balance her university ring on his snout as part of the unusual photoshoot.

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And if she wants him to raise out of the water - just like in her "thumbs up" photo - all she has to say is, "Up, up, up". "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.

"In all reality we don't want to bring these animals back, we want them to live in the bayous and canals out in the swampy areas", she said. Noland said she has a very special bond with the animal after her time with Gator Country. "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".

It's illegal to feed wild alligators and could result in a fine as high as $500, according to Texas Parks and Wildlife. I'm doing things supervised.

It remains to be seen whether we're on the cusp of a graduation pic fad, and more young people will be inspired by Noland and the other viral posers.

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