MONTREAL – Relax, world — your baby won’t get snatched by an eagle if you visit Montreal.
An online video of the massive bird plucking an infant off the ground has been acknowledged by its creators as a fake.
The admission comes after the video, produced by students at a new-media training school in Montreal, had gotten more than 1.2 million views on YouTube and been covered by dozens of media in Canada and internationally.
The video was picked up by newspapers in the U.K., was tweeted by at least one member of the White House press corps in Washington, and it moved on the international news wires through Agence France Presse as well as in numerous other major international publications.
But Claude Arsenault, a spokesman for the Centre NAD, says the video was done as part of a class project in 3D animation and digital design.
“Both the eagle and the kid were created in 3D animation and integrated in to the film afterwards,” said a statement from the school.
An online debate raged about whether or not the video was real, with many people weighing in that it was fake. As that debate raged, media picked up the story — with some treating it seriously and others warning that it could be a stunt.
It’s not the first time a hoax from that class has gotten attention. An earlier effort showed a penguin escaping from the Montreal Biodome. Although that earlier video of the pengiun waddling down Sherbrooke Street, outside the Olympic Stadium, only got a fraction of the attention generated by the stolen-baby video.
It was the second time in a week that media and the public had been drawn in by a hoax involving animals in Montreal.
A fake CBC Radio interview where a phoney Montreal city councillor proposed a bylaw requiring dogs in public spaces to be bilingual also caused a tempest before it was denied by the public broadcaster.
In the meantime, the Montreal eagle has shown up with his own Twitter account, saying he grabbed the child because he thought it was a Hobbit.
The Agence France Presse news service noted the proliferation of weird stories emerging lately from Canada.
“A YouTube video of a golden eagle swooping down and lifting a toddler off the ground in Montreal could soar to Internet stardom as the latest episode of animals behaving strangely in Canada,” the report began.
“(It comes) just a week after a monkey wearing a sheepskin coat was found wandering around an IKEA parking lot in Toronto.”