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Screen grab from video of eagle allegedly grabbing a child in Montreal.
Screen grab from video of eagle allegedly grabbing a child in Montreal.

The squawking skeptics were right: Eagle video is a student hoax Add to ...

It's official: The YouTube video purporting to show a giant bird – assumed to be a golden eagle – swooping down and snatching a toddler on Montreal’s Mont Royal is a hoax.

The video was actually the work of three students in the animation and digital design program at Montreal's Centre NAD. According to a press release from the school, both the eagle and the child were created using 3D animation.

For a solid 24 hours, it seemed as if Canada had managed to rack up a trio of animal incidents, all of which erupted on Twitter and news-sharing sites.

The eagle-nabbling-toddler hoax followed the horse that walked into the Royal York Hotel in Toronto following the Grey Cup and, unforgettably, Darwin, the tiny monkey sporting a shearling coat outside a Toronto Ikea.

By mid-day, the fake eagle video had been viewed more than 1.2 million times on YouTube. 

For all the O.M.G. comments on the video, an equal number were suspect – with viewers either applying their avian or digital expertise to make a case that the video could not possibly be real.

In the first half of the one-minute video, the camera is aimed up at the sky and follows the bird’s trajectory as it barely pauses before nabbing the boy. Next, the footage has been slowed down so that we can get a better look, this time with music and a simulated raptor cry for added drama. Cue the score to Chariots of Fire.

Indeed, students Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin did a decent job with their project – but they didn’t fool everyone.

All along, Huffington Post Canada has had an, er, eagle eye on the story, reporting all the various attempts to prove the video a fake.

Many people pointed out shadow inconsistencies, while one person made an effort to zoom in on the video to demonstrate that the boy appears mid-air but unattached to the talons.

Unsurprisingly, the eagle already has a fake Twitter account – although the name alone (@snatchyobabies) is enough to reveal that it is not worth following. Mostly, it tweets the words “swoop” and “grasp.” In all caps.

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