Alisa Manzelli, Global Animal

A terrifying YouTube video seen by millions this week has proven to be a complete hoax. The video entitled “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” features a horrifying sight: an eagle swooping down from the sky to snatch a small child sitting in the grass, just a few feet away from the parent. The eagle drops the child a few seconds later and flies away while shocked bystanders run to the aid of the traumatized child.

Golden Eagle Snatches Kid

The video has garnered over 18 million views, spurring much speculation and skepticism. And as it turns out, the skeptics were right. A 3-D animation school in Montreal admitted the video is in fact a fabrication and released a statement yesterday reassuring the public that there is no danger of being snatched by an eagle.

The Centre NAD writes, “The ‘Golden Eagle Snatches Kid’ video, uploaded to YouTube on the evening of December 18, was made by Normand Archambault, Loïc Mireault and Félix Marquis-Poulin, students at Centre NAD, in the production simulation workshop class of the Bachelors degree in 3D Animation and Digital Design. The video shows a royal eagle snatching a young kid while he plays under the watch of his dad. The eagle then drops the kid a few feet away. Both the eagle and the kid were created in 3D animation and integrated in to the film afterwards.”

The Centre NAD also notes that this was not the first time that a video produced by their students has fooled the public: “The production simulation workshop class, offered in fifth semester, aims to produce creative projects according to industry production and quality standards while developing team work skills. Hoaxes produced in this class have already garnered attention, amongst others a video of a penguin having escaped the Montreal Biodôme.”

However, the hoax has angered zoologists and animal lovers alike who are concerned that the fake video might lead to unwarranted fears of eagles and other endangered species that are no threat to humans.

Perhaps the only good that comes of this sham is that, thanks to technology, no live animals were used in the making of the hoax—just extremely realistic 3D animation.

Watch the video below.