U.S. net Discovery Channel has revealed more details about the December 7 broadcast of its Eaten Alive special - in which naturalist Paul Rosolie (pictured) feeds himself to a green anaconda – which will go ahead despite calls to pull the program.
The Expedition Amazon-produced special and stunt were filmed over 60 days this past summer, when crews accompanied Rosolie on an expedition into the Amazonian jungle where the naturalist, who had previously explored the area, believes the world’s largest anacondas live and breed.
According to a statement from Discovery, on his prior trip Rosolie had come close to capturing what he believed was the world’s largest anaconda, “a 25- to 27-foot behemoth that slipped through his hands and nearly dragged him to the bottom of the floating forest.”
The network does not provide details about the stunt other than ensuring both Rosolie and the green anaconda are “healthy and alive,” but it points out that the naturalist designed his own ingestion-proof suit and worked with a team of engineers and herpetologists – biologists who study amphibians and reptiles – to make sure it would protect both him and the snake.
Discovery also notes that Rosolie’s intention for the stunt was to measure the constriction force of the anaconda and “gain more insight on its hunting and feeding behaviors, and – ultimately – to gain a greater understanding of the inner workings of these majestic creatures.”
Teasers for Eaten Alive were aired during Nik Wallenda’s live tightrope event on November 2, and a sneak peek into the special on YouTube has garnered more than 13 million views since the video was posted on November 5.
The stunt has also been met with its share of controversy, with animal rights groups such as People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) urging the network to pull the program. Elsewhere, a Change.org petition that deems the special as “animal abuse to the highest degree” has collected more than 28,000 signatures.
Rosolie has maintained that the stunt is meant to raise awareness about green anacondas and further efforts to protect the species.
“I’ve seen first-hand how the Amazon rainforest is being destroyed,” said Rosolie in a statement. “It is so rampant that we may be the last generation with the opportunity to save it. People need to wake up to what is going on. What better way is there to shock people than to put my life on the line with the largest snake on the planet, the green anaconda?”
Biologist Shawn Heflick, who accompanied Rosolie on the expedition, added: “It is strange to think that one of the giant species of snakes on the planet is also one of the least understood. An amazing and mysterious serpent, the green anaconda is what myths and legends are made of.”
Eaten Alive is set to air on December 7 at 9 p.m. EST/PST.