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'Eaten Alive' leaves Discovery viewers hungry for more

By Ralph Ellis, CNN
updated 1:02 PM EST, Mon December 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Viewers say the special was overhyped; herpetologist was not eaten alive
  • Naturalist says he wore a special suit and was swallowed by a giant green anaconda
  • "The last thing I saw was her mouth wide open before everything went black"
  • Paul Rosolie says he survived the ordeal and the snake is fine, too

Editor's note: This article was updated after "Eaten Alive" aired.

(CNN) -- "Eaten Alive"? Not quite.

Herpetologist Paul Rosolie generated lots of hype ahead of his attempt during a Discovery Channel special to be eaten whole by a giant green anaconda, the largest and most powerful snake in the world.

To many viewers' disappointment, Rosolie was constricted by the snake but never consumed.

"Ultimately, after the snake constricted Paul for over an hour and went for his head, the experiment had to be called when it became clear that Paul would be very seriously injured if he continued on. The safety of Paul, as well as the anaconda, was always our number one priority," Discovery said in a statement.

Viewers ultimately recoiled at the special after it aired Sunday and took to social media to blast the network for overselling the program's title.

"Awful. No way that snake could have eaten someone his size. I was just hoping it could squeeze him to death at least but no such luck. Sorry to say I cheered for the snake, but frankly it had 10X more charisma than those lame excuses for humans had," said one CNN commenter.

Rosolie presented himself as prey to the snake after putting on a special reinforced suit with helmet and devices to measure his vital signs, he said before the show aired in a news release on the Discovery Channel website.

Before the special, Rosolie claimed that he spent an hour inside the snake, which was difficult because he's claustrophobic.

"She got me right in the face," Rosolie said. "The last thing I saw was her mouth wide open before everything went black. As this happened, she wrapped around me and took me off of my feet. I felt the suit cracking. It felt as if my arms were ripping out of their sockets."

Rosolie didn't say much more about his experience in the western Amazon, which was filmed in advance, because he wanted everybody to tune in.

Some CNN.com commenters were left hungry for more substance after watching.

"The last 30 minutes of the program shows him wrestling with the snake then trying to get but never getting eaten -- all of this is punctuated by overproduction (i.e., loud music, short scenes and shots cut together like an action movie, etc.) to add drama where there really is none. When all is said and done, I've been swallowed by as many anacondas as he has," wrote one viewer.

The Discovery Channel said that it was Rosolie's "absolute intention to be eaten alive" but that his and the snake's well-being were of the utmost importance.

Some animal rights organizations complained, but Rosolie says the snake came out fine. "I would not have done this if there were any real chance of hurting or stressing out the snake," he said.

Next, he wants to find the biggest anaconda.

"During an earlier expedition in the Amazon, we encountered a 26-foot-long anaconda that weighed hundreds of pounds," he said. "The snake for the 'Eaten Alive' project was big, about 18 feet long, but we know that there are even larger anacondas out there."

CNN's Sarah LeTrent contributed to this report.

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