This new dating show is wild — literally.
Love in the Jungle premieres Sunday, May 8th (Discovery+) and features 14 singles trying to find their inner sexy besties. They are housed in a private eco-reserve in Colombia, where they flirt and participate in mating rituals straight from the animal kingdom—all without being able to communicate verbally.
“It was very difficult without words, but you can give them a little nudge on the shoulder to show that you care. It almost comes from a place of playfulness, so that was cool,” Stephan Davis, 31, single on the show, told The Post.
“For me, it was definitely the eye contact. Strangely enough, you get used to it a bit and you make connections with people you never talk to. It was the strangest experience. The hugging and kissing was almost stepped up to show affection when we couldn’t speak.”
On the show, each single is given a different animal to represent and wear around their neck as a ‘token’, e.g. B. a koala or a tiger.
Davis, who is from Long Island and is a model and behavior specialist working with the intellectually disabled, received a bee.
“We ran a number of different personality assessments,” he told the Post. “Apparently the bees’ means of communication is dancing. They do this for a variety of reasons, like finding the best flower or signaling that they want to mate.”
Buzzing around his castmates wasn’t a big deal, he said. “I was like, ‘Wow, I’m dancing around, I’m that kind of person anyway when I’m in a room.’ So I think it correlates.”
Paige Dacanay, 26, another single on the show, who is from Los Angeles and works in software sales, was asked to channel her “inner starfish.”
“Starfish have a lot of nerve endings. So I tried to use my emotional side and not hold back,” she told the Post.
She said she focused on eye contact to communicate her interest in someone and she also did a lot of self-searching. “For me personally, in the beginning it was all based on physical attraction. I realized, ‘I might be physically attracted to this person, but I’ve never had a conversion with anyone. I might be drawn to the thoughts of that other person.’ ”
Was it awkward? “It was really uncomfortable at first,” said Dacanay. “But when we started hugging [the experience] we said, ‘let’s just embrace our inner animals and be wild together.’ ”
Animal behavior expert Jennifer Verdolin, who advised the show and wrote the book Wild Connection: What Animal Courtship and Mating Tells us About Human Relationships, told The Post that she was excited about the show as she feels that Animal behavior translates well to human dating.
“There are many important things to look out for. I think a really important question that comes up right away is to be picky,” she said. “Sometimes we’re told, ‘Don’t be too picky.’ We’re supposed to be pretty picky, and that happens with all kinds of animals, because making a decision about who your partner is going to be is pretty important.”
She watched as trying to lock down a potential partner too quickly backfired for some singles on “Love in the Jungle.”
“It doesn’t work well because it doesn’t even reflect what other animals are doing. There is a lot of sampling going on in other species. And so I think those who were trying to secure and control access to a partner and quickly keep them away from others — that wouldn’t work well, I think.”
For the watching audience, the singles occasionally speak directly to the camera in confessional booths, and if they win a challenge, they have the opportunity to participate in a private date where they can speak to each other. The “Challenges” are mating rituals derived from real-world practices in nature. For example, to mimic the behavior of male frogs, the males had to attempt to push each other off a small rock in the water while the females looked on.
“The men did male challenges to attract the women and we did things like dancing,” Dacanay said. “It’s super fun and sexy and different. It would bring out different sides of them, and you’d be like, “Wait, that was cute, I think I liked that.” So it would make you look at the guys differently.