Animal rights activists at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (Peta) have condemned Tv bosses at Discovery Channel for airing conservationist and adventurer Paul Rosolie's unsuccessful attempt to be swallowed by an anaconda on Sunday night (07Dec14).

Peta officials were outraged by the two-hour long giant snake encounter, Eaten Alive, during which Rosolie attempted to seek out a reptile he claimed was the world's largest anaconda.

He failed to find the beast but he and his team did capture another serpent that attempted to ingest Rosalie, who was protected from direct contact by a custom suit.

He was forced to call the whole thing off over fears the stunt would leave him with a broken arm.

Conservationists, biologists and leading herpetologists urged Discovery bosses to scrap the special, and on Monday, Peta representative Lisa Lange released a statement blasting the Tv executives who greenlighted the show.

She wrote, "The Discovery Channel aired the inexcusable torment of a captured wild green anaconda and several other snakes. The animals were removed from their water habitat and transported to a filming location, and the chosen snake was deceived into using her precious energy reserves to constrict a human being pretending to be a pig, all for a publicity stunt."

She adds, "Under natural conditions, anacondas go weeks and even months between meals, eating only when necessary for survival and expending the tremendous amount of energy required to attack, constrict and consume large prey only when the payoff outweighs the risk.

"Paul Rosolie and his crew put this snake through undeniable stress and robbed her of essential bodily resources. She was forced to constrict and then not allowed to eat."

Meanwhile, a Discovery spokesman insists the show was created to "get maximum attention for one of the most beautiful and threatened parts of the world, the Amazon Rainforest and its wildlife."

The rep adds, "Paul went to great lengths to send this message and it was his absolute intention to be eaten alive. 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 bosses also insist the snake was unharmed and released back into the environment after the Tv special.

The Eaten Alive special was watched by 4.3 million viewers.