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Published on 07 Nov 2014 | over 3 years ago

Discovery Channel is promising to go where reality television has never gone before: inside the mouth of an anaconda. The December premiere of “Eaten Alive” promises to show naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie being swallowed alive by a giant snake, after covering himself in pig’s blood while wearing a custom-built suit. “You have to go head-first,” Rosolie says in a clip promoting the program. Paul Rosolie has agreed to be consumed by the giant snake, which traditionally drowns or suffocates its food by crushing it before swallowing it whole. Rosolie will wear what the channel has referred to as a "snake-proof suit," and will be covered in pig's blood to make himself a more palatable meal.

He's reportedly being removed from the snake after being "eaten" with a cord attached to the suit. Critics have voiced concern, wondering whether the snake was harmed during the filming, but Rosolie defended the program. Still, while Rosolie presumably emerged from his snake engagement without damage, it doesn't sound all that pleasant for the unsuspecting snake — and there are early rumblings that animal rights experts will try to prevent the episode from airing. Many are already speaking against the show, calling the experiment animal cruelty and asking if the event will be harmful or stressful to the snake. Pet Snakes, a website for those who keep snakes as pets, warns that regurgitation of undigested food can be unhealthy for the animals.

A petition has already been set up at Change.org asking the network not to air the show. The network also assured that the stunt's announcement is not a hoax and that snake itself does not die during the special. “If u know me – I would never hurt a living thing,” Rosolie wrote on Twitter. He responds to naysayers on his website by writing, "For those worried about animal cruelty, I invite you to research my work — read my book ["Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon"]. Then ask yourself: would this person ever hurt an animal?" This hasn't stopped animal rights activists from speaking out against the stunt, however.

Twitter has been buzzing with horrified comments regarding the premise of the program since Wednesday, when Discovery released both a promo and a sneak peek of Eaten Alive on YouTube. Having a large snake swallow a human in a special suit might serve as entertainment for some, but overall, it’s probably not the simplest way to see inside an anaconda, nor the safest — for man or snake.

Is Discovery’s Eaten Alive entertainment, science, or just animal cruelty? "Eaten Alive" is set to air on Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. on the Discovery Channel. “Eaten Alive” marks another “shock” reality program for Discovery Channel, which also airs “Naked and Afraid” – featuring survivors learning how to bond and survive sans clothes – and “Naked and Afraid,” with strangers bound to each other while participating in survival challenges. But the programs are drawing viewers, with Discovery Channel reporting double-digit viewership ratings increases for October 2014, compared with October 2013.

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