The anaconda that supposedly gobbled up a man for a Discovery Channel special wasn’t harmed, but that didn’t stop the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) from weighing in on the network’s latest ratings ploy.
A network source assures PEOPLE that the massive snake in Eaten Alive, a special airing Dec. 7 featuring naturalist Paul Rosolie, survived the filming. (Rosolie did, too, in case you were wondering.) But PETA still has major concerns, which is why it urged the network to drop the special.
“This blatant publicity stunt sounds far-fetched, but if the description is accurate, the snake was tormented and suffered for the sake of ratings, as animals usually do when they’re used for entertainment,” PETA, which has yet to see the special, said in a statement. “Anacondas go days without eating and expend the energy needed to do so selectively. Making this snake use up energy by swallowing this fool and then possibly regurgitating him would have left the poor animal exhausted and deprived of the energy that he or she needs.”
“Shame on this pseudo ‘wildlife expert’ for tormenting this animal, and shame on the Discovery Channel for giving him the incentive to do so,” the group continued. “PETA has not heard back after reaching out to the Discovery Channel asking them to pull the show, whether it is a hoax or not.”
The Discovery source tells PEOPLE that Eaten Alive is not a hoax – nor did the network approach the entire stunt lightly. Three herpetologists were consulted before Rosolie – the author of Mother of God: An Extraordinary Journey into the Uncharted Tributaries of the Western Amazon – donned a medieval-looking suit in an effort to become a jungle meal. In fact, Entertainment Weekly reports that Rosolie covered himself in pig’s blood to make himself more appetizing to the anaconda.
Discovery, in the meantime, is keeping quiet about how much Rosolie is actually swallowed by the serpent.
Promotional spots for Eaten Alive first aired during Nik Wallenda’s tightrope walk over Chicago Sunday. Watch one below: