Animal rights group Peta are demanding that the Discovery Channel's Eaten Alive show, which claims it will show a man being eaten alive by an anaconda, be taken off air.

"Anacondas go days without eating and expend the energy needed to do so selectively. Making this snake use up energy by swallowing this fool and then possibly regurgitating him would have left the poor animal exhausted and deprived of the energy that he or she needs," Peta said in a statement.

Trailers of the film which is due to be aired on 7 December show Paul Rosolie, a naturalist and wildlife film-maker putting on a custom-made snake-proof outfit.

The suit was covered in pig's blood to encourage the snake to eat him, and to also make the snake regurgitate afterward. Rosolie denied charges of animal cruelty by sending out a tweet on 4 November, saying he would "never hurt a living thing", before adding "But you'll have to watch to find out how it goes down!"

"I am about to be the first person that is going to be eaten alive by an anaconda," Rosalie said in the film trailer. "I don't expect anyone to believe us until we show it."

It's believed that after Rosalie was 'devoured' by the anaconda, he was pulled out by a cord attached to the suit.

The documentary also shows the search and capturing of an anaconda, the world's largest snake species in a South American rainforest.

Peta has asked the network to pull the show and more than 21,000 people have signed a petition against the stunt being televised, claiming it "reinforces the negative stereotype of snakes".

The petition was started by Ben Paramonte, and states: "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 it's body.

"It once again reinforces the negative stereotype of snakes, which one would think would be the opposite of what Discovery should be trying to do.

"Please sign this petition and boycott the Discovery Channel and get this show taken off the air.

"I've been fascinated by snakes my entire life, and feel this stunt is void of educational value while ruining Discovery Channel's credibility. The show promotions even show the host holding an anaconda by the head as if he's about to be attacked.

"That's perpetuating stereotypes that condition people to fear these animals. Humans are not their natural prey!"

Paramonte revealed that producers of the show asked him to be part of the film as a scientific advisor. He turned down the offer, saying he was "shocked and saddened" by those who wanted to film such an act.