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Pocatello man returns to the wild naked

A local man has not only been naked in the wilderness once, but twice.

Jeff Zausch has always been an outdoorsy kind of guy. He knows how to start a fire with a self-made bow drill and has climbed many of the Northwest’s highest mountains, including Idaho’s highest mountain, Mount Borah.

“I was always into nature and pushing the limits,” said Zausch. “Kind of like an adrenaline junkie, but not quite that crazy.”

So the show “Naked and Afraid” seemed tailor-made for him. On season two, he got stranded in Madagascar’s desert naked for 21 days. Now he’s going to the jungles of Colombia for “Naked and Afraid XL” for 40 days.

After dealing with starvation, dehydration and excruciating heat, why did Zausch decide to sign onto the show again?

“Discovery Channel and the folks over there think I’m one of the world renown survivalists,” he said. “They wanted me to prove that. I wanted me to prove that to myself.”

Jeff Zausch’s wife, Gabrielle Zausch, wasn’t into the idea the first or second time he brought it up. However, when she watched the show on TV she had a change of heart.

“I was very proud of him for accomplishing something I could never do in my entire life,” she said.

In “Naked and Afraid XL,” Jeff Zausch will be in Colombia with 11 others instead of just having one partner. This change, he said, made it more than just a survival challenge.

“(It turned into) how will you work as a team, how will you interact with other individuals and how will you react when somebody gets in your way of possibly surviving– making it to the end,” Jeff Zausch said.

After surviving twice in the buff now, would Jeff Zausch do it for a third time?

“On day 21 in Madagascar, I said I was never going to do it a second time,” he said. “Day 40 in Colombia, I said there was no way I was ever going to do it a third time. So right now, I’d have to say I’m content.”

“Naked and Afraid XL” premieres Sunday at 7 p.m. on the Discovery Channel.

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