Discovery’s “Out of the Wild: Venezuela” features nine volunteers who are dropped off and abandoned in a remote area of southern Venezuela. Armed with only basic supplies, the group must traverse 70 miles back to civilization.
The series premieres at 10 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 17, and was filmed in fall 2010.
Merchant graduated from UMaine in 2007 with a degree in biology. According to his biography on the Discovery Channel website, Merchant is a wildlife technician who leads animal biologists on hikes and frequently backpacks and kayaks. The biography states Merchant has a vast knowledge of insects, reptiles and plant life, specifically mushrooms, and spent his youth learning how to fish, hunt and trap in Maine.
The volunteers were flown into Venezuela and left on top of 9,200-foot Mt. Roraima, which was the inspiration for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novel “The Lost World.” The nine volunteers are not competing for prizes. Each person can opt out of the trip whenever they choose.
Merchant is one of three UMaine graduates participating in reality shows that currently are airing. UMaine graduate Ashley Underwood is a contestant on “Survivor: Redemption Island” on CBS, which takes place in Nicaragua, and Ashley Hebert is one of the final four contestants on ABC’s “The Bachelor.”
The “Out of the Wild” series won a Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Cinematography for Reality Programming in 2009.