This new dating show is wild — literally.
“Love in the Jungle” premieres Sunday, May 8 (Discovery+) and features 14 singles looking to find their inner sexy beasts. They’re placed in a private eco reserve in Colombia where they flirt and participate in mating rituals pulled straight out of the animal kingdom — all without being able to verbally communicate.
“It was very difficult without words, but you can give them a little nudge on the shoulder to show that you’re interested. It almost comes from a place of being playful, so that was cool,” Stephan Davis, 31, a single on the show, told The Post.
“For me, it was definitely in the eye contact. Funny enough, you do get a little bit used to it and make connections with people that you never talk to. It was the strangest experience. The hugging and the kissing were almost amplified, to show affection when we didn’t have the ability to talk.”
On the show, each single is given a different animal to represent and wear a symbol around their neck as a “token,” such as a koala or a tiger.
Davis, who’s from Long Island and is a model and behavior specialist working with the mentally disabled, was given a token of a bee.
“We did a bunch of different personality evaluations,” he told The Post. “Bees’ way of communication is dancing, apparently. They do it for different reasons, like locating the best flower or signaling that they want to mate.”
Buzzing around his castmates wasn’t a big stretch, he said. “I was like ‘Wow, I dance around, I’m kind of that person when I’m in a room, anyways.’ So, I guess it correlates.”
Paige Dacanay, 26, another single on the show who’s from Los Angeles and works in software sales, was asked to channel her “inner starfish.”
“Starfish have a ton of nerve endings. So, I was trying to tap into 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 found herself doing a lot of soul-searching. “For me, personally, everything in the beginning was based off physical attraction. It made me realize, ‘I might be physically attracted to this person, but I haven’t had a conversion with anyone. I could be attracted to this other person’s mind.’ ”
Was it awkward? “In the beginning, it was really uncomfortable,” Dacanay said. “But as we started embracing [the experience] we were like, ‘Let’s just embrace our inner animals and be wild together.’ ”
Animal behavior expert Jennifer Verdolin, who consulted on 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, since she thinks animal behavior translates well to human dating.
“There’s a lot of key things to look out for. I do think one really important one that comes up right off the bat is to be choosy,” she said. “Sometimes we’re told, ‘Don’t be too picky.’ We actually are supposed to be pretty picky, and this happens for all kinds of animals, because making a choice about who is going to be your partner is pretty important.”
She observed how trying to lock down a potential partner too fast backfired for some singles on “Love in the Jungle.”
“This doesn’t work well because it doesn’t even reflect what other animals do. There’s a lot of sampling that goes on in other species. And so, I think those that tried to secure and control access to a mate, and keep them from others quickly — it wasn’t going to work out well, in my opinion.”
For the audience watching, the singles occasionally talk directly to the camera in confessionals, and if they win a challenge, they get a chance to go on a private date where they can speak to each other. The “challenges” are mating rituals drawn from real practices in nature. For example, to emulate how male frogs behave, the men had to try to push each other off a small rock on the water while the women watched.
“The men would do manly challenges to attract the females, and we were doing things like dancing,” said Dacanay. “It’s super fun and sexy and different. It would bring out different sides of them, and you’d be like, ‘Wait, was that cute, I think I liked that.’ So, it would make you look at the guys differently.”