PETA Blasts Discovery's 'Eaten Alive' Over "Inexcusable Torment" of Anaconda

Eaten by an Anaconda - P 2014
Gowri Varanashi/Discovery Channel

Eaten by an Anaconda - P 2014

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has issued a statement expressing outrage over Discovery Channel's special Eaten Alive in which conservationist and adventurer Paul Rosolie attempted to be swallowed by an anaconda.

The two-hour special, which aired Sunday night, found Rosolie in the Amazon as he sought what he believes to be possibly the world's largest anaconda. While that snake proved elusive, they did capture another serpent that at one point looked as if it was going to try to ingest Rosalie, who was protected from direct contact by a custom suit. However, Rosolie was forced to call the whole thing off before he could see his plan to fruition, believing that his arm would be broken if the attempt were not put to a stop.

See more The Dark Side of Reality TV: 27 Tragic Deaths

On Monday morning, PETA released a statement decrying the special.

"Last night, despite protests by conservationists, biologists, herpetologists and decent people everywhere who oppose the abuse of wildlife, the Discovery Channel aired the inexcusable torment of a captured wild green anaconda and several other snakes," PETA senior vp communications Lisa Lange said. "The animals were removed from their water habitat and transported to a filming location, and the chosen snake was deceived into using her precious energy reserves to constrict a human being pretending to be a pig, all for a publicity stunt.

"Under natural conditions, anacondas go weeks and even months between meals, eating only when necessary for survival and expending the tremendous amount of energy required to attack, constrict and consume large prey only when the payoff outweighs the risk. Paul Rosolie and his crew put this snake through undeniable stress and robbed her of essential bodily resources. She was forced to constrict and then not allowed to eat.

Read more Eaten by an Anaconda? What's Behind the Rise in Go-Wrong TV

"Study after study has shown that entertainment features such as this one that show humans interfering with and handling wild animals are detrimental to species conservation. Rosolie knows this. Discovery knows this. Yet they chose to contrive and air this shameful stunt for ratings anyway."

PETA previously criticized the special in November.

Said a Discovery spokesman in a statement: "Paul created this challenge to get maximum attention for one of the most beautiful and threatened parts of the world, the Amazon Rainforest and its wildlife. He went to great lengths to send this message and it was his absolute intention to be eaten alive. Ultimately, after the snake constricted Paul for over an hour and went for his head,  the experiment had to be called when it became clear that Paul would be very seriously injured if he continued on.  The safety of Paul, as well as the anaconda, was always our No. 1 priority.”

The narrator also noted at the end of Sunday night's special that the snake was unharmed and released back into the environment.

See more When Leads Vanish: TV Shows That Have Killed Off Major Characters

For his part, Rosolie has been recognized for his conservation efforts around the world. On the Discovery special, he explained that the reason he wanted to perform the stunt was to draw attention to the ecological crisis currently threatening the West Amazon from mining, illegal logging and rapid deforestation.

He also retweeted this:

Meanwhile, many viewers hit Twitter to express their disappointment at the ultimate outcome of the event.