Last night the TV-watching world held its collective breath as viewers watched the Discovery Channel's 2-hour special, "Eaten Alive," in which naturalist Paul Rosolie approached a 20-foot-long Amazonian green anaconda with — in theory — a plan to be swallowed.
It takes guts to slather yourself in pig's blood and walk up to a snake that literally has enough constricting power to break your bones. But it takes even more guts to call the event off after you've promised the world a show.
So, what made Rosolie call for rescue? Well, the snake was doing what anacondas do best: she was trying to suffocate Rosolie.
"I can tell you that the thing beat the shit out of me and constricted me," Rosolie told Entertainment Weekly in an interview posted before the show aired but after the stunt had already taken place.
At one point, the team removed the crush-proof armor around one of Rosolie's arms, which gave him more mobility but also exposed the arm to the snake's powerful grip.
While some doubt that it was ever Rosolie's intent to go through with the stunt, the encounter sounds terrifying. Even though Rosolie wore a protective, "snake-proof" suit, the anaconda still overwhelmed the 27-year-old man.
The snake initially latched on to Rosolie's arm, at which point she immediately began coiling herself around his body. He could hear ominous sounds as the snake moved her mouth toward his head.
"I felt her jaw on my helmet and I could hear a gurgling and wheezing," Rosolie told AFP.
At first he struggled to move into a more eatable position and to avoid the deadly coils, but the snake was too strong.
"I'm trying to use my legs to get into a better position. I'm actually trying to get away from this snake right now," he said during the encounter.
Rosolie's goal was to be swallowed whole in a special suit designed to help him breath throughout the entire ordeal. He searched for two months for the right snake.
"She nailed me right in the face," he recalled, "and the last thing I saw was her mouth wide open before everything went black. And then she wrapped me and I felt the suit cracking and my arms ripping out of their sockets. It was absolutely terrifying," he told Entertainment Weekly.
Instead of being immediately engulfed, he was slowly constricted to the point where he felt light-headed. "I'm not getting air that well," he said as the snake continued to squeeze.
"Guys, she's really heavy. She's got me pinned here. I'm trying to move, and I can't move at all. I'm just face down in the mud," Rosolie said. He remained wrapped in her clutches for over an hour. It actually looks pretty scary:
"My whole upper body has 200 pounds of snake on it, so everything I'm doing doesn't work, and I can just hear [her] tightening," he said while straining to breath. "She's lifting and moving my body... each time she breathes, I can feel myself going up and down."
A little later, he said: "I'm starting to get a little light headed. I really can't move right now, so I want to see what she does next." Generally, anacondas will constrict their prey for as long as it takes to suffocate the animal. With each breath, the snake tightens its grip a little more.
The team, already worried about the stunt, became really anxious when Rosolie's heart rate began to slow.
"If I wasn't in this suit right now, I'd be dying," Rosolie gasped, shortly before the stunt was cancelled to prevent any serious injury to himself.
"Her crush force was fully on my exposed arm so I just started to feel the blood drain out of my hand and I felt the bone start to flex and when that got to a point when I felt like it was about to snap, I had to tap out," Rosolie told AFP.
Despite outcries that the stunt was cruel to animals, potentially staged, and was a terrible idea, Rosolie insists that he and the team always had the snake's safety in mind, in addition to his own.
"I'm being careful how much I'm saying here, but the plan was once she got to my waist, they'd pull me back out — that's partly for my safety, partly for the snake's. Because once she got past my waist it would be difficult for me to get pulled out," Rosolie told Entertainment Weekly.
In the end, Rosolie was not eaten alive, but he was certainly constricted. He told Entertainment Weekly that it took him months to recover after the encounter, despite reportedly suffering only minor injuries.
Rosolie says this crazy stunt was all for a good cause. Over the last decade, Rosolie has watched thousands of miles of rainforest burnt to the ground, and he hoped to raise awareness and public support to stop this kind of destruction.
"I wanted to do something that would sort of shock people and force a dialogue about what's going on here," he told Entertainment Weekly. But, actually, the internet has responded pretty negatively to the stunt.
Check out the terrifying stunt below:
Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream
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