Noland wore her school colors, Texas A&M sash and graduation cap for the shoot, which took place in the middle of Big Tex's swamp.
A young woman is celebrating her college graduation with a wild photo shoot: posing with a 14-foot-long alligator. The photos, taken by Arlie Hammonds, show a sweet and interactive moment in the waters of Gator Country, where Noland interned. "He's one of my best friends here", she told Inside Edition.
Reactions to the photos - both positive and negative - have inspired Noland to continue her mission to educate the public.
"Whenever you're training a puppy, you commend them for sitting down and give them a treat", Noland explained.
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"I have a good relationship with Big Tex", she said.
And it has been the ideal place for Mackenzie who said she has always been "picking up snakes and holding animals" from an early age. Gator Country Adventure Park is the largest alligator adventure park/sanctuary in Southeast Texas, according to the website. "Over the past three weeks, I had gained Tex's trust and felt comfortable in the water", she says.
So does Noland. Her photo wasn't meant as an attention-getting stunt. "This is no small task, in fact Tex is very picky about who can get in and feed him, but today a huge step was made all thanks to Arlie Hammonds".
The alligator was caught at Trinity River National Wildlife Refuge in October 2016 because he had become "a little too friendly", according to a Facebook post from the refuge.