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Discovery's Man-Swallowing Snake Stunt Stretches Credulity

Move over, Shark Week: In the latest anything-for-ratings move, Discovery Channel plans to air a show called Eaten Alive that it says features a man in a special protective suit being swallowed whole by a giant anaconda.

The teaser for the program (above, sans the money shot) sums up the Dec. 7 show thus: "Naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie enters the belly of an anaconda in a custom-built snake-proof suit." Rosolie is heard saying "you've got to go head first."

It's not clear how big the animal is, but the green anaconda can reach a length of more than 29 feet and measure 12 inches in diameter. No one is quite sure how Rosolie, who is reportedly slathered in pig's blood to make himself more appealing to the snake, can be safely removed once the "experiment" is finished. Even so, the naturalist promises:

Still, it hasn't stopped an online petition against the show, which describes it as "animal abuse to the highest degree and absolutely disgusting" and says the concept of the show "once again reinforces the negative stereotype of snakes, which one would think would be the opposite of what Discovery should be trying to do."

To say the feat stretches credulity (not to mention the snake) is putting it mildly. Herpetologist Frank Indiviglio declared it all "nonsense; not possible" in an email to Business Insider and subsequently tweeted:

Indiviglio isn't the only doubter. Science writer Jason Bittel (National Geographic, Slate, etc.) issued a series of questioning tweets:

Finally concluding:

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Neuman is a reporter and editor, working mainly on breaking news for NPR's digital and radio platforms.