After an outpouring of disappointment from viewers that expected to see Paul Rosolie get "Eaten Alive" by an 18-foot anaconda on Discovery Channel's highly-anticipated special, the network has released a statement regarding the feat being cut short.
The two-hour Monday night event took the audience 100 miles deep into the Amazon and when Rosalie thought his arm was going to break, his team rushed in to free him before he was eaten.
Viewers were not happy.
“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," Discovery said in a statement to ABC. Disney is ABC's parent corporation. "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.”
Rosalie, a naturalist, author, and award-winning wildlife filmmaker, wore a special carbon fiber suit built for the event, made specifically to protect his ribs so they would not be crushed while the snake tried to suffocate him. A special helmet also provided oxygen and two crucial cameras to film everything.
But, he said when the snake had swallowed his head and started to constrict, “I had very labored breathing which was spiking my heart rate even more because that was stressful,” he explained to Discovery.
Viewers on social media exploded with rage, some upset no one was really eaten alive.
“2 hours of my life I can't get back and Paul didn't even get eaten alive,” one Twitter user wrote.
“This dude’s a quitter,” another said.
Others compared it to the letdown of Geraldo Rivera’s 1986 special where he opened Al Capone’s secret vault, only to find empty bottles and dirt.
The animal rights group PETA called the “Eaten Alive” show a shameful stunt for ratings.
“Shame on this pseudo ‘wildlife expert' for tormenting this animal and shame on the Discovery Channel for giving him the incentive to do so,” the statement read.
But Rosolie said the snake is alive and well and was even checked out by a veterinarian. He also says that despite the provocative concept, he’s really just trying to bring attention to the Amazon rain forest.
“The snake is alive and well and remains healthy,” he told Discovery. “She was examined by a vet throughout the project, including directly after my very close encounter with her. I would not have done this if there were any real chance of hurting or stressing out the snake.”
For his next stunt, Rosolie says he wants to go big, really big, by tracking a legendary anaconda believed to be 26-feet-long.
“During an earlier expedition in the Amazon, we encountered a 26-foot-long anaconda that weighed hundreds of pounds,” he said. “The snake for the ‘Eaten Alive’ project was big, about 18 feet long, but we know that there are even larger anacondas out there.”