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Man in 'snake-proof suit' eaten alive by anaconda. Animal cruelty? (+video)

Animal rights activists are less than thrilled to learn of a Discovery Channel special that features a man being eaten and regurgitated by the world's largest species of snake.

Catch EATEN ALIVE Sun Dec 7 9/8c on Discovery.

Ever wonder what it's like to be swallowed whole by a snake?

Naturalist and filmmaker Paul Rosolie did, so he decided to try it out – and let viewers watch.

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That's right: audiences can see Mr. Rosolie don a special suit, slather himself in pigs' blood, and then be swallowed whole by an anaconda, the largest snake species in the world, on "Eaten Alive," Dec. 7 on the Discovery Channel.

The special hasn't yet aired, but it's already stirred the ire of animal rights activists who call it an act of "animal abuse to the highest degree," and have pressured Discovery Channel to pull the special.

According to trailers for the show, Rosolie and a Discovery Channel team venture into the Amazon rainforest to search for an anaconda, then prepare for Rosolie to be eaten alive by the snake, the largest of which can measure 30 feet long. After putting on a "snake-proof suit," and covering himself in pigs' blood to make himself more palatable (to the anaconda), Rosolie kneels next to the snake.

"We're going to make me as appealing as possible, so the snake just says, 'Well, I got this big thing here, I might as well get a free meal.' " Rosolie then says the last words he utters in the trailer, "You have to go head first."

According to reports, Rosolie is later removed from the snake by a cord attached to his suit, after having been swallowed whole.

Rosolie's been tweeting actively since the special was taped, so it's safe to say he emerged safely.

It's not so clear how the anaconda fared, however, which is why animal rights activists are upset.

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Protestors have created a petition at Change.org to prevent the special from airing and to boycott Discovery Channel, and have already collected more than 3,000 signatures.

"This is animal abuse to the highest degree and absolutely disgusting, and could kill the snake – an adult green anaconda cannot fit the width of an adult man's shoulders into its body," the petition reads. 

Regurgitation of undigested food can be dangerous for snakes, potentially creating physical harm and emotional distress.

"Regurgitating a meal is stressful to a snake’s internal system," one animal enthusiast site warns. "Not only is the snake not receiving the nutrients from his food, but the regurgitation process also robs the snake of essential digestive acids from his stomach."

The Discovery Channel has not responded to the criticism, which has led some to believe it may be considering pulling the special.

But Rosolie has addressed concerns directly.

"I understand that many people have questions," Rosolie wrote on his website. "All I can tell you now is that all my work is based around the fact that wildlife and ecosystems today, across the globe, are at a critical moment."

"For those worried about animal cruelty, I invite you to research my work – read my book, then ask yourself: would this person ever hurt an animal?"

He added that snakes are being threatened by hunting and habitat destruction, and he hopes the special will bring attention to the anaconda and help scientists understand what it's like inside the animal.

He also addressed his fans on Twitter.

Until then, the debate over whether "Eaten Alive" is science – or just animal cruelty – continues.