Just because you can be eaten and regurgitated by a 30-foot snake, does that mean you should? That’s what animal rights activists are asking the Discovery Channel and naturalist filmmaker Paul Rosolie.
The controversy erupted on Thursday after Discovery released a preview video for Eaten Alive, a one-off show that follows Rosolie as he dons a snake-proof suit covered in pig’s blood and voyages with a camera into the belly of a wild anaconda. The preview video quickly went viral and was immediately met with, ahem, a venomous response from PETA and a petition on Change.org calling for Discovery to pull the programming. More than 11,000 people have put their signatures on the entreaty so far.
Critics of the stunt argue that a human’s shoulder width is too wide to fit the anaconda’s body, which could cause the animal physical and emotional pain. They also claim that regurgitating undigested food is harmful to the well-being of the snake since it will use up the animal’s precious digestive acids. “Anacondas go days without eating and expend the energy needed to do so selectively,” Delcianna Winders, PETA’s deputy general counsel, told the Associated Press, “Making this snake use up energy by swallowing this fool and possibly regurgitating him would have left the poor animal exhausted.”
The preview video doesn’t include any clips from inside the snake, but the adventurer was reportedly dislodged from the creature’s stomach using a pull cord.
A Discovery representative told the AP that the snake is “alive and well.”
On his website, Rosolie wrote, “In the days leading up to Eaten Alive on Discovery Channel, I understand that many people have questions. All I can tell you is that all my work is based around the fact that wildlife and ecosystems today, across the globe, are at a critical moment. No group more than apex predators.” He suggested that people thinking he’d ever hurt an animal should read his book about his experiences in the Amazon.