A naturalist who was filmed being eaten alive by an anaconda for a Discovery Channel documentary has responded to animal rights activists angry about the shocking stunt.
Paul Rosolie donned a carbon fibre suit and poured pigs’ blood over himself for Eaten Alive, before imitating the 25ft snake’s normal prey to attract its attention and get it to eat him.
Critics have angrily accused Rosolie for not caring about the snake’s welfare, but the 27-year-old has said that he only took part in the experiment to help raise awareness of the animal’s Amazon habitat.
“I didn’t want to stress [the anaconda] out too much,” he told the New York Post. “I wanted to make sure that the suit was smooth and wasn’t going to hurt the snake.
“I really wasn’t scared. We tested this suit and worked on this with experts so we knew I was going to be safe.”
Rosolie added that he wanted to “absolutely shock people” and gain new supporters. “Environmentalists, we love to preach to the choir,” he said. “What I’m trying to do with this is bring in a bunch of people that wouldn’t necessarily know what’s going on in the Amazon. Desperate times, desperate measures.
“It’s a cool little dissonance there – they’re all coming out against me but I’m the guy that’s been down there in the jungle trying to protect these things.”
When the trailer for Eaten Alive sparked controversy on its release last month, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) released a statement branding it a “blatant publicity stunt”.
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“If the description is accurate, the snake was tormented and suffered for the sake of ratings – as animals usually do when they’re used for entertainment," the statement read.
“Anacondas go days without eating and expend the energy needed to do so selectively. Making this snake use up energy by swallowing this fool and then possibly regurgitating him would have left the poor animal exhausted and deprived of the energy that he or she needs.
“Shame on this pseudo ‘wildlife expert” for tormenting this animal and shame on the Discovery Channel for giving him the incentive to do so.”
How Rosolie escaped the 400lb snake’s body before being crushed remains a mystery, although the special suit’s three-hour oxygen supply would have been crucial.
He refused to reveal how the stunt ended but insisted that the snake was unharmed. “For those worried about animal cruelty, I invite you to research my work – read my book. Then ask yourself: would this person ever hurt an animal?”
Eaten Alive airs Sunday at 9pm ET on the Discovery ChannelReuse content