Paul Rosolie has been called many things: snake researcher, environmentalist, conservationist, perpetrator of wildlife abuse. To hear him say it, he's a naturalist, a title minted over a decade working with animals in the Amazon. But he's not your typical ecotour guide - Jane Goodall deemed his nonfiction book, "Mother of God," "extraordinary." And Rosolie's approach to nature, at times, is more like Steve Irwin crossed with Steve-O.
In December, Rosolie attempted to feed himself to an anaconda on Discovery's show "Eaten Alive." Despite his best efforts, he remains entirely unswallowed. But his intent, Rosolie said, was less ingestion and more attention, with an eye toward the plight of South American snakes. His point, he told The Dodo, was not to say that anacondas are deadly to humans - they're not. Rosolie summed up his message in one word: "conservation, conservation, conservation."
The roots of this show stretch back years, to the fertile muck of his first Amazonian expeditions. "I grew up knowing that the rain forests were going to be destroyed," he said, "and then I spent 10 years down there watching it happen every day." The backdrop for "Eaten Alive," as well as Rosolie's book, is the Peruvian river Madre de Dios, where illegal gold mining threatens the anaconda habitat.