Man is leaving the wild: After six years, the Discovery Channel is ending its relationship with Bear Grylls, the star of its ceaselessly fascinating hit docuseries Man vs. Wild. (According to The Hollywood Reporter, the breakup is reportedly over Grylls' refusal to participate in two other projects called for in his contract.) Over the nearly 70-episode span of the show — which follows the former British Special Forces member as he fights his way out of precarious wilderness situations using few tools — Grylls clashed with alligators in the Everglades, plunged naked into a frozen Siberian river, drank his own urine, and was accompanied by the likes of Will Ferrell and Jake Gyllenhaal. Here, a look at his six craziest stunts (Warning: The videos are not for the faint-hearted):
1. Drinking his own urine
While traveling through Australia, Grylls found himself low on water, so he did what he swears he's "never done before" to keep hydrated. "It may seem disgusting," he said, "but your urine is safe to drink." After taking a couple of swigs from his urine-filled canteen, he described the taste: "It's warm, and it's salty. Not my favorite."
2. Drinking elephant dung juice
No stranger to drinking nearly any liquid available in order to avoid dehydration, Grylls did warn against drinking from water sources that might contain harmful bacteria. A better idea, he said, is to squeeze the fluid out of elephant dung and drink it. The unflinching stunt proves why Man vs. Wild was one of the best non-fiction shows on television, says Josh Jackson at Paste Magazine.
3. Eating a live snake
Only once, Grylls says, has he eaten something on the show that made a director vomit. (That gourmet meal was a "burger patty" made of crickets, grasshoppers, and praying mantises.) Inexplicably, this director had no problem with Grylls eating a live snake.
4. Crawling inside a dead camel
Without Grylls, TV viewers might never have learned how to properly use a camel carcass. After stumbling upon a dead camel in the Sahara (video starts at 30-second mark), Grylls promptly skinned it, evacuated it organs, feasted on its meat, fashioned a blanket out of its skin, and crawled inside it head first to use it as a shelter — all while having to hold his breath to avoid the stench. Disgusting? Yes, says Outdoor Vancouver. But it proves just how daring Grylls is.
5. Eating a yak's eyeball
In Siberia, Grylls encountered a frozen yak carcass, which is, in the Man vs. Wild world, a fortuitous food source. Without a fire to defrost the yak's meat, Grylls carved and ate the beast's eyeball: "Awful. It's like an eruption of just cold, fluid, gristle, blood." And to think, says Brain Childs at Asylum, you feel gross "when you find a hair in your food."
6. Swimming naked in negative 90 degree weather
Because temperatures had plunged to -90 degrees Fahrenheit, crossing a Siberian river was one of Grylls' most arduous obstacles. "The most important thing is to keep your clothes dry," Grylls said, because if they get wet, they will instantly freeze once you surface. So he proceeded to strip off all his clothes and swim naked. "Thank goodness for reruns," says Mandi Bierly at Entertainment Weekly "because we may have seen the last new footage of a naked Bear Grylls crossing a freezing river."
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- America created the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria? Meet the ISIS 'truthers'
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- Russia's giant spy ship was a high-tech disaster waiting to happen
- How American businessmen are ruining American business — and the U.S. economy
- The Obama era is over. The presidency continues.
- On ISIS, neocons and liberal hawks have a 'boy who cried wolf' problem
- 10 things you need to know today: September 2, 2014
- Fall movie guide: All the films you should see in September
- How Harry Houdini escaped death
- The 10 best networking tips for people who hate networking
Subscribe to the Week