‘Eaten Alive’ star recounts stunt
Raised and schooled in Bergen County, New Jersey, explorer Paul Rosolie had always been fascinated by animals. That fascination will reach another level this weekend when the Discovery Channel airs Rosolie's attempt to be "eaten alive" by a 19-foot snake.
The stunt has the shock and awe factor that will most likely attract millions of eyes to their televisions and mobile devices at 9 p.m. Sunday, but the reasoning behind the incredible act goes way beyond the ratings.
In a conversation with Townsquare Media, Rosolie said his goal "is to protect the anacondas and to protect the ecosystem that they live in." Rosolie suggested anacondas are a misunderstood species that play a vital role in their surrounding environment.
"Anacondas - they're this big, charismatic species that people are terrified of," Rosolie said. "They're actually a force of good in the world."
During his years of exploring and research in the Amazon, which produces a fifth of the planet's oxygen, Rosolie has seen 1,000-mile stretches of rainforest burned to the ground.
The anticipation alone of the "Eaten Alive" special has already resulted in significant progress for Rosolie's goal. Even if some of the conversation is negative, including death threats, Rosolie said, at least people are talking about the right issues.
"I think it's great to see so many people stand up for snakes," he said. "Usually snakes are the villains."
The anaconda is alive and well following the stunt, and the same goes for Rosolie, but the preparation had to be fierce and intricate in order to make sure Rosolie didn't become a permanent resident of a snake's belly.
Rosolie was equipped with a lightweight, carbon-fiber suit that had been tested repeatedly for its resistance to pressure. Rosolie's crew went as far as using trucks, attempting to crush a 3D print of his body.
The most important part of the suit, according to Rosolie, was the chest piece, which protected his lungs from getting crushed. He was also equipped with a communication device and breathing hoses.
"What I was worried about was that if I ended up inside and something went wrong with the breathing, I would just suffocate inside of the snake," he said.
The snake, at first, had no interest in Rosolie and his suit, but once he started acting as a predator would, the anaconda did what it does best.
"The last thing I saw was black," Rosolie said. "I saw her mouth open, and she hit my helmet like a freight train."
The network would not allow Rosolie to comment on certain details of the experience, including how much of himself was actually devoured, but he could say he "got pretty banged up."
"To actually get to experience being constricted by one of the greatest predators on the planet is pretty cool," he said.