Discovery Channel slammed for animal cruelty in new extreme stunt

Discovery Channel has come under fire for an upcoming show in which naturalist Paul Rosolie apparently allows himself to be swallowed by an anaconda while wearing a ‘custom-built snake-proof suit’.

A teaser of the controversial stunt shows Rosolie in his suit – imagine a giant condom – saying: “We’re going to make me as appealing as possible.” According to some sources, this will involve dousing him in pig blood.

The programme – Eaten Alive – is due to air on December 7, and at the time of writing more than 27,000 people have signed a petition to boycott the show. The petition claims: “This is animal abuse to the highest degree and absolutely disgusting, and could kill the snake, which cannot fit the width of a man’s shoulders into its body.”

Writing for Red Orbit, snake expert Lisa Powers raises a number of issues, including the inevitable pain and damage that will be caused to the snake while regurgitating, before concluding:

“It adds nothing to our existing knowledge of the anaconda diet, anatomy or consumption and digestion processes. It’s simply a contrived situation that allows Discovery Channel to improve its ratings through hatred, fear and ignorance. If there is one thing to take away from this it’s further insight into the behaviour, ethics and stupidity of Homo sapiens.

Paul Rosolie has been defending his actions on Twitter, though as yet, few people in the science community have backed him.

Of course, with Discovery's recent track record for misleading viewers, it should be noted that Eaten Alive may turn out to be nothing more than an overhyped segment of make-believe. As pointed out by Salon, this is a company that has made two documentaries on mermaids, which are "so ineffectively marked as fictional that the U.S. government had to issue a statement informing the public that mermaids aren't real."

Make of that what you will.