Man 'Eaten Alive' by anaconda explains why he did it — and how it felt

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By Ree Hines

Being consumed alive by a giant snake sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but for conservationist, filmmaker and "Eaten Alive" star Paul Rosolie, it was a personal goal — one that he's now fulfilled. The question is: Why?

And as it turns out, the answer is relatively simple.

"[I thought], I want to do something that's just going to grab people's attention," Rosolie explained during a Tuesday morning visit to TODAY.

After seeing the destruction of rainforests in the Amazon first hand, he hoped his stunt would shift the spotlight to that ever-shrinking ecosystem.

#WhenIWasAKid+I+always+wanted+to+find+an+#anaconda+and+be+an+#explorer!+#snakes+#WildlifeWednesday+#environment+pic.twitter.com/UKvnk7tZw6

—+Paul+Rosolie+(@PaulRosolie)+September+11,+2014+

Whether or not he'll achieved that goal once the "Eaten Alive" Discovery special airs remains to be seen, but he's certainly gained some attention for himself already — in particular, the attention of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

"This blatant publicity stunt sounds far-fetched, but if the description is accurate, the snake was tormented and suffered for the sake of ratings," PETA said in a statement.

According to the man who's actually survived passing through the jaws of an anaconda, the snake is just fine. Still, he appreciates PETA's concern.

"I'm actually the guy who's down there protecting these animals and protecting the ecosystem, so I know a lot about anacondas and I'd never hurt one," he said. "But what's cool about PETA is that 35,000 people in a week came out to support a snake, and usually snakes are the villains. So I actually thought it was really cool that so many people spoke out in support of a snake."

Today

Viewers will get a chance to see how Rosolie and the snake fared for themselves soon enough, but the naturalist offered up a taste of the action Tuesday.

"The last thing I remember is seeing the snake's mouth open straight at my face," he said. "Everything went black. It was like being caught it a wave. It was just wrapped up; you feel that crush. … For over an hour I was being constricted."

On+@TODAYshow+talking+about+#EatenAlive+pic.twitter.com/0e8lADc7Mf

—+Paul+Rosolie+(@PaulRosolie)+December+2,+2014+

While it's hard enough to imagine how Rosolie managed to survive being eaten by an anaconda, the really tricky part is how he got out of the belly of the beast. But that's the part of the puzzle he refuses to reveal — yet.

"They don't tell you how the tightrope walker makes it across," he teased. "You've got to watch on Sunday."

"Eaten Alive" airs Dec. 7 at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery.