It is not every day that TV audiences root for a man to be consumed alive by a massive anaconda, which was the subject of the much-anticipated Discovery special Eaten Alive starring conservationist Paul Rosolie. The two-hour documentary focused on Rosolie’s expedition to the Amazon rainforest in pursuit of a local legend known as “Chumana,” rumored to be one of the largest anacondas in the world at a purported 25 feet long. The plan was to capture the anaconda and then “feed” Rosolie to the animal while he wore a specially-designed suit that would prevent the giant snake from crushing him, or injuring him with stomach acid.
Rosolie intended for the documentary to raise awareness for wildlife conservation and the loss of habitat in the Amazon—which just happened to involve him being swallowed whole by an anaconda. In the end, however, viewers were left disappointed as Rosolie returned from his expedition empty-handed and instead attempted the stunt with a smaller, 19-foot anaconda. Shortly after the anaconda began constricting his arm, Rosolie halted the stunt without any part of his body entering the large snake.
Viewers wasted no time in taking to social media to voice their disappointment.
What kind of a world do we live in where the promise of a man getting #EatenAlive by an anaconda on TV goes unfulfilled?
— Aaron Sagers (@aaronsagers) December 8, 2014
— Martin Médus (@MartinMedus) December 8, 2014
Do not mess with us Americans today!! We are furious here because a man didn’t get #EatenAlive by an anaconda last night on TV as promised.
— andy lassner (@andylassner) December 8, 2014
— Tom Reisenweber (@ETNreisenweber) December 8, 2014
The torrent of criticism, much of it tongue-in-cheek, caused Discovery to make a statement defending the documentary.
“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,” the network told Entertainment Weekly. “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 number-one priority.”
You can see a trailer for the documentary below:
Rosolie, for his part, found it ridiculous that so many people would ask for his possible injury or death by completing the stunt.
“I don’t care if you’re upset I didn’t get eaten by anaconda,” he told NJ.com. “A, I tried, and B, there’s a chance for me to do work with the Discovery Channel and bang my drum about the dangers (facing anacondas), and I’ll do that.”
Supporters did point out that Rosolie did spend months in South America searching for anacondas, at one point being dragged underwater by a 20-foot snake. When the conservationist returned without the legendary Chumana, he made the decision to feed himself to a captive anaconda instead. Rosolie grappled with the snake for about an hour before the reptile started squeezing his arm to the point where Rosolie feared he would pass out, which was especially dangerous because he had removed parts of the armored suit that were supposed protect his limbs. In the end, the closest that Rosolie came to being in the snake’s stomach was when the anaconda nibbled his helmet. Rosolie later admitted that the anaconda, as large as it is, was probably too small to consume his entire body.
A detailed description of Rosolie’s custom suit can be viewed below: