Audiences can see [naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie] don a special suit, slather himself in pigs’ blood, and then be swallowed whole by an anaconda, the largest snake species in the world, on “Eaten Alive,” Dec. 7 on the Discovery Channel….According to trailers for the show, Rosolie and a Discovery Channel team venture into the Amazon rainforest to search for an anaconda, then prepare for Rosolie to be eaten alive by the snake, the largest of which can measure 30 feet long. After putting on a “snake-proof suit,” and covering himself in pigs’ blood to make himself more palatable (to the anaconda), Rosolie kneels next to the snake. …According to reports, Rosolie is later removed from the snake by a cord attached to his suit, after having been swallowed whole.
What? Naturally PETA is up in arms (Dear PETA: If only you didn’t complain about harmless animal spectacles like Ground Hog Day in Punxsutawney, people might pay attention when you have something legitimate to complain about…), but so are rational, serious zoologists and animal activists. The stunt has outraged officials at The Columbus Zoo & Aquarium, for example. “If this snake would ingest something very large, like a human, and then have to regurgitate that prey or that food, that obviously could be harmful to the snake,” said Tom Stalf, CEO and President of the Columbus Zoo. Some believe, given the Discovery Channel’s reliability, that this is a hoax rather than a cruel stunt.
If it is going to be unethical, I suppose I would prefer that the network engage in the hoax rather than really traumatize the big reptile for the amusement of 21st Century equivalents of side-show gawkers.