Image
© Youtube screenshot
A screengrab is shown from a YouTube video called "Golden Eagle Snatches Kid."
A Montreal media school has admitted that a viral video showing a toddler being snatched up by a golden eagle is a hoax.

The video -- uploaded to YouTube Tuesday -- begins with the camera following a large bird circling in the sky above a park. The bird then swoops down to where a child is sitting on the grass, with an adult standing nearby.

The bird appears to grab the child with its talons before ascending a few feet into the air as the adult runs over. The bird drops the child and flies away.

Within just a few hours, the video had gone viral, amassing more than 2.7 million views.

But on Wednesday, the Montreal-based Centre NAD posted a blog owning up to the fact that the video was the work of several students in the school's 3D Animation and Digital Design program.

"Both the eagle and the kid were created in 3D animation and integrated into the film afterwards," the school wrote, citing Normand Archambault, Loic Mireault and Felix Marquis-Poulin as the student masterminds behind the clip.

"The production simulation workshop class, offered in fifth semester, aims to produce creative projects according to industry production and quality standards," the blog added.

This isn't the first time Centre NAD's work has created a buzz: students in the program have previously created hoax videos that have also gone viral, including one showing an escaped penguin from the Montreal Biodome.

The baby-snatching eagle video had created a near instant sensation on the Internet, popping up in newsfeeds, inboxes and media reports around the world as word of the intriguing video spread. But nearly as soon as the video went up Tuesday, debate emerged over whether the clip was authentic.

David Bird, a professor of wildlife biology at McGill University, said early on the video was a fake.

"I can assure you the film is a hoax and I'm almost 99 per cent sure that bird is an osprey, which is a bird that is somewhere between the size of a red-tailed hawk and a bald eagle. They eat fish, they don't eat little kids," he told CTV News Channel. "I don't know of any cases really where a bird of prey has tried to pick up and fly off with a baby."

Bird also pointed out that Montreal has had snow for roughly two weeks and the apparent attempted baby-snatching takes place in a park with green grass.

Still, Bird admitted it was a convincing video and that it got people talking.

"It's a great story and I think people are almost disappointed when I tell them it's a hoax. It's actually got bird-of-prey specialists from all over the world -- from England to Tasmania -- talking about it."