The Discovery Channel and the creators of the "Eaten Alive" program are facing online ridicule after the special failed to show a man be swallowed by a snake.

The Sunday night special had been billed as featuring naturalist Paul Rosolie being "eaten alive" by an anaconda in the Amazon while wearing a protective suit, but the reality involved the snake coiling around Rosolie's arm and the stunt being called off just as the snake was starting to pay attention to the naturalist's helmet.

Discovery spokeswoman Laurie Goldberg said it was Rosolie's "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."

The show's producers had earlier been criticized by animal lovers including People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals for causing undue stress to the wild snake. However, the makers of the program revealed the snake featured in the show wasn't actually from the wild at all.

"We didn't want to stress out a snake and then release her to the wild," Rosolie said. "We wanted to be able to check her out, make sure she was okay. We kept in touch with her keeper for weeks afterwards to make sure she was alive and back to normal. We wanted to keep the suspense but really, it wasn't that big of a deal for the snake. But people have been drawing such crazy conclusions, we let them wonder."

The anticlimactic end to the special led to a flurry of criticism on Twitter.

Calling it #EatenAlive is like having a show on the Food Network about cooking a turkey and all they do after 2 hours is preheat the oven." Reagan King (@ReaganKingIsles) December 8, 2014

@PaulRosolie didn't need an anaconda. He's getting #EatenAlive quite well by the Twitter universe." Bernie Delinski (@TD_BDelinski) December 8, 2014

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So the guy wasn't eaten by the snake. He just ended up hugging it??? Worse than Al Capone's empty vault! #EatenAlive" Greg Graber (@GregGraber) December 9, 2014

Next on Discovery... The search for the Easter Bunny. Where I search for 2 hours... give up and eat a whole pizza. #EatenAlive" Jason (@DrSlappyShorts) December 9, 2014

Hey @discovery, can I have my own show? #EatenAlive" BarstoolTrent (@BarstoolTrent) December 8, 2014