Failed ‘Eaten Alive’ Snake Stunt Leaves Bad Taste in Everyone’s Mouth

Animal rights activists and scientists slam the attempt to feed a man in a crush-proof suit to a giant anaconda.
Dec 8, 2014·
Taylor Hill is an associate editor at TakePart covering environment and wildlife.

It’s not every day a television show angers everybody.

But on Sunday night, Discovery Channel’s Eaten Alive seemed to accomplish that feat, riling scientists, animal rights activists, and people who just wanted the show to live up to its name.

Viewers tuned in to the two-hour special thinking they were going to see snake specialist Paul Rosolie climb into a crush-proof snake suit, get eaten alive by a giant anaconda, and live to tell the story.

Instead, after more than 90 minutes of buildup, Rosolie called off the stunt before the 20-foot-long snake had a chance to chow down, saying the pressure on one of his arms was too great to continue.

Even before the show aired, animal rights activists were up in arms about putting a snake in harm’s way for entertainment, and scientists questioned how much “science” was involved.

“When I heard about the planned special, my initial impression was that the Discovery Channel could not possibly stoop any lower, and this was surely the death blow to nature programming on television,” David Steen, a snake specialist and a wildlife ecologist, told The Washington Post.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals piled on the criticism. “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,” the group said in a statement.

Viewers expecting an anaconda to eat a person weren’t too happy either, taking to Twitter to vent their frustration.

Rosolie has maintained the show and the stunt’s purpose was to get people to pay attention to the destruction of the Amazon rainforest and the creatures that live in it—such as giant anacondas.

“I’m sick of watching forests burn,” Rosolie told the New York Post before the show was aired. “It’s being destroyed so fast, and bringing attention and bringing more people and action is really difficult, so I wanted to do something that would...cause enough of a stir to say, ‘What’s going on here?’ ”