The naturalist at the center of a controversy over an upcoming Discovery Channel special has spoken out, attempting to answer his critics while revealing the motivation behind his unusual stunt.
Paul Rosolie has been the target of online ire from animal activists and mocking from comedians since Discovery announced that he would be eaten by a giant green anaconda in a two-hour special, “Eaten Alive,” set to air Sunday, Dec. 7.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Rosolie remains mum on just how far he got inside the snake, telling EW: “I am actually not allowed to say anything. I can tell you that the thing beat the shit out of me and constricted me.”
But Rosolie, in the lengthy interview, hinted that perhaps he didn’t get so far as to actually be “eaten” whole, telling EW, “The story of this is an attempt.”
Rosolie also insists that the point of the special is to raise awareness of how the biodiversity of the Amazon rain forest is being destroyed, saying, “In order to do that you have to get people’s attention.”
Rosolie told the publication: “I’ve seen entire 1,000-mile stretches of rain forest burnt to the ground where every single plant and animal is destroyed — and no one pays attention to that. I’ve seen scientists spend their entire lives trying to rally public opinion and support, and people just don’t care. People care about animals. They don’t make the jump to caring about the habitat the animals live in.”
Commenting on a PETA petition protesting the Discovery special, which the article notes had reached 40,000 signatures, Rosolie lauded the response “from people who care about a snake,” calling it “awesome.” But he added: “Those people don’t realize this is one snake when there’s millions of snakes and other animals [that] are being incinerated right now. Yet a petition to protect the standing Amazon rain forest has — wait for it — 159 signatures.”
Noting that his goal is to protect habitat, Rosolie said: “Nothing else that I could have done would have gotten more attention than this.”
Here’s a trailer for the Discovery special: