As his name may suggest, Big Tex is not an alligator to dice with.
At 13ft 8.5in (4.18 metres), he would be the height of a giraffe if he could stand on his tail. Except with much, much bigger jaws.
Big Tex resides/lurks at the Gator County park, in Beaumont, Texas. Here the hefty lad enjoys the honour of being one of the biggest alligators in captivity.
The large reptile’s enormously wide and disconcerting grin suggests he is perfectly at ease with his 1,000lb gait. A body-confident man if ever there was one.
Now, observing Big Tex luxuriating in his pond – amber eyes flickering dangerously with thousands of years of predatory instinct – you could be forgiven for crossing the road quick-sharp.
This is after all an absolute beast of a reptile; capable of crunching a man’s head off with a single snap of his jaws.
However, there is one person who sees beneath Tex’s scaly surface to the fluffy little puppy he is (deep, deep) inside.
New graduate Makenzie Noland made headlines all across the world when she posed with Big Tex for her graduation pictures. She fondly counts Tex as being among her ‘best friends’, according to KTXS.
Now, more footage has emerged of 21-year-old Mackenzie and Tex, showing the former wildlife and fisheries sciences student lovingly feeding the colossal alligator with her bare hands/snacks.
The footage begins with fearless Mackenzie wading into Tex’s pond, lightly clad in shorts and a vest top as opposed to full body armour.
Stepping backwards through the rippling waters, she chucks food and looks around her; waiting for her peckish pal to appear. And appear he does.
Snout just visible above the surface, Big Tex glides towards Mackenzie. The Gator County intern then beckons the snappy chappy towards her; just as you might your golden retriever.
Tex then opens his mouth wide, and Mackenzie drops a treat into it. At this point, Tex isn’t the only one gulping. This shook me.
This carries on, with Mackenzie guiding the gentle giant around the pond; while giving him more food.
On multiple occasions she tickles him on the snout like the goodest boy, and he looks sort of adorable in a weird, scaly sort of way.
Mackenzie spoke with Fox News about her unique friendship:
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.
She also compared Tex’s abilities to follow commands for treats to the antics of a ‘puppy’:
Whenever you’re training a puppy, you commend them for sitting down and give them a treat.
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.
Remember, Mackenzie is something of a fully qualified croc expert, with extensive experience working alongside Big Tex. Do not – under any circumstances – try this next time you are at the zoo!
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.