A proposed reality show on which a naturalist in a custom snake-proof suit will allow himself to be swallowed by an anaconda has generated intense criticism from animal rights activists.
In the show called Eaten Alive set to air by the Discover Channel on Dec. 7, naturalist and wildlife documentary filmmaker Paul Rosolie will let the giant snake ingest him.
A storm of criticism has developed, calling the event an example of animal cruelty that could be stressful or harmful to the snake.
Several websites have questioned the wisdom of presenting an indigestible meal to the snake, warning that the regurgitation of undigested food can be unhealthy for the reptiles.
"Not only is the snake not receiving the nutrients from his food, but the regurgitation process also robs the snake of essential digestive acids from his stomach," animal enthusiast website PawNation says.
According to the Discovery Channel, the show will feature Rosalie and his team in South America as they search for an anaconda and attempt to coax it into swallowing Rosalie alive "in a custom-built snake-proof suit."
There's some evidence the TV channel is reacting to -- or at least is aware of -- the criticisms being leveled.
Although the channel has put up a page about the show on its website, it contains little hard information, and the company's Facebook page and Twitter account have carried no mention of it at all.
Rosolie, for his part, has been tweeting about the Eaten Alive show, although the videos he's shared have all been tagged as either "private" or "no longer available," possible signs of second thoughts on the part of the Discovery network. Rosolie has also responded to the criticism from animal enthusiasts.
— Paul Rosolie (@PaulRosolie) November 5, 2014
Anacondas, which live in South America and can grow to a length of 22 feet, are found in or near bodies of water and can suffocate prey by constricting their bodies around their victims.
Once prey, which can be as large as deer, tapirs or crocodile, are subdued, the anaconda will attempt to swallow it whole.
Even an anaconda of just 12 feet in length is thought to be capable of overpowering a human, and there have been reported cases of the snakes attacking people involved in researching the reptiles.