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Eaten Alive's Paul Rosolie: The Snake Is 'Absolutely Fine'

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It probably should have been called Squeezed Alive.

That’s because Sunday’s Discovery special Eaten Alive – which led viewers to believe that naturalist Paul Rosolie was going to get swallowed by a massive anaconda – never even got to the appetizer stage.

At worst, Rosolie nearly got the breath squeezed out of him before he called uncle and his team rushed out to save him. Never once did the 20-foot, 250 lb. anaconda ever swallow – much less bite the bejesus out of – Rosolie.

And get this: that wasn’t a snake that Rosolie and his team happened upon during filming. Reached by PEOPLE on Sunday, Rosolie admitted that the production actually relied upon a Peruvian green anaconda in captivity to complete the experiment.

“We didn’t want to stress out a snake and then release her to the wild,” explains Rosolie. “We wanted to be able to check her out, make sure she was okay. We kept in touch with her keeper for weeks afterwards to make sure she was alive and back to normal. We wanted to keep the suspense but really, it wasn’t that big of a deal for the snake. But people have been drawing such crazy conclusions, we let them wonder.”

So did the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals get their panties in a bunch for nothing? Heck no, admits Rosolie.

“PETA promoted the hell out of it,” said Rosolie of PETA, which initially slammed the special by suggesting the snake was probably “tormented” for ratings. “They helped me out a lot.”

In response, PETA senior vice president Lisa Lange said in a statement: “The animals were removed from their water habitat and transported to a filming location, and the chosen snake was deceived into using her precious energy reserves to constrict a human being pretending to be a pig, all for a publicity stunt. Study after study has shown that entertainment features such as this one that show humans interfering with and handling wild animals are detrimental to species conservation. Rosolie knows this. Discovery knows this. Yet they chose to contrive and air this shameful stunt for ratings anyway.”