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, was viewed millions of times Wednesday on YouTube and was the subject of news reports in 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 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. In the meantime, media picked up the story.
Some treated it seriously. Others warned it could be a stunt.
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."
Comedy writers joked about Canada's animal follies.
Even the bass player for the American band Blink 182, Mark Hoppus, got in on the fun: "Eagle Baby and Ikea Monkey in a buddy cop movie. Cast Balloon Boy as the chief of police. Done. Please wire me my royalties. Thanks."
Scottish actor Greg Hemphill tweeted: "Wean eating eagles in Montreal, Fur coated Monkeys in Toronto Ikea. The Mayans were right but they were only talking about Canada."
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 also 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.
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