Destination TruthEpisodes

Giant Anaconda
Season 2 - Episode 206
Giant Anaconda
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Brazil — The Amazon Basin: Giant Anaconda


Josh brings his team to Sao Paulo, Brazil, in search of the much-reported giant anaconda. Their hunt begins with a visit to Dr. William Ernest, coordinator of biodiversity research at Inpa. Dr. Ernest explains that with 96 percent of the Amazon rainforest left unexplored, new species of life are found there all the time.

Similarly, Dr. John Francisco of the Manaus Snake Research Center says the biggest anaconda recorded to date is about eight meters (25 feet) long, but it's possible that something larger might be out there. Before leaving for the rainforest, Josh enters a pit and handles an anaconda to give himself a sense of what he might be getting into.

Traveling in a series of progressively smaller boats, the team penetrates the Amazon rainforest. Along the way, Josh visits small villages, where eyewitnesses have reported encounters with the giant reptile. One man shows Josh the makeshift harpoon system he built with a tree branch and an empty soda bottle, and then he bequeaths it to Josh to aid in his hunt for the creature.

That night, Josh and his team begin exploring one of the river's many tributaries where reports have been prevalent. During the night, the team is fascinated while watching a small, poisonous snake work its way up a tree branch, inching closer to a small bird that refuses to fly away. Brad begins to freak out when he realizes they have come without anti-venom to an area crawling with lethally poisonous insects, arachnids and reptiles that can strike from the darkness with no notice.

Josh heads out alone on a small boat, leaving Brad and Casey to keep an eye on the four cameras mounted in fixed locations. When Josh is out of range, three of the cameras detect something large moving out of sight, and Brad and Casey are frustrated that they cannot raise Josh. Casey heads to the river bank but cannot find anything. Neither can Josh, so when Casey calls in to report that he sees something, Josh turns his boat around to come investigate for himself.

When they still find nothing, they rewind the tapes to get a clue where to look. Josh and Brad set out, leaving the others to prep their gear rain as thunder and lightning ominously descend. Along the way, Brad admits his childhood dislike of snakes and confesses that this entire adventure makes him nervous.

Just then, their translator, Beto, calls out. An anaconda has been found, and the team's local snake-handler, Abigeus, helps immobilize it. The snake measures approximately three meters long and was captured 20–30 yards from the river. The team examines it a bit and then lets it return to the wild.

Brazil — The Amazon Basin: Giant Anaconda

The following day, the team goes to another village and meets with its leader, Ramaw. He welcomes them with gifts, including a strong beverage and spicy fried ants. He tells them of a hunting trip during which a Giant Anaconda killed all his people's dogs.

Josh and the team travel some 45 minutes upriver, to where Ramaw's event allegedly occurred. That night, Josh and his team venture out by boat. Josh uses a thermal head-mounted camera. A fish jumps into their boat, surprising them, but then they see movement in the reeds. Josh focuses on it, and they trace its wake and bring the boat close to where it is lurking underwater.

All four men leap out of the boat and struggle to bring the snake out of the water. Abigeus identifies it as a particularly aggressive species of boa constrictor which tests Josh's strength as it writhes in his arms. Abigeus estimates the snake is five meters (15 feet) long before they release it back into the water.

A new storm arrives, trashing one of the team's computers, a camera and other equipment, so Josh calls off the hunt. In the end, he decides that, unlike many other creatures, there's enough unexplored terrain in the Amazon to persuade him that the giant anaconda's existence is a distinct possibility.

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