Eagle Video Hoax Creates Real World Ignorance About Nature

A video entitled “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” — which showed just that — quickly went viral after it appeared on YouTube on December 18. From the start, viewers wondered if it was authentic. In the New Statesman, Alex Hern cited some careful analyses of the video: At one point, the eagle’s right wing became transparent and, after it lets go of the toddler, “not only does it carry on going up – which would just be momentum – but its ascent actually speeds up a bit before falling.”

Others who actually know something about eagles pointed out that the bird in the video was a juvenile eastern imperial eagle, which is not native to Montreal parks, the video’s purported location.

By December 19, the day after the video was uploaded by someone who had just joined YouTube on December 18, “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” was revealed to be a hoax, the creation of three students from the Montreal animation school Centre NAD, as a project for a production simulation workshop class. Noting that the video had received over 1,200,000 views (as of this posting, it has over, 38 million), the school’s website stated that the production simulation workshop class

… 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.

The Centre also noted that the video had attracted quite a bit of attention in the media, in Canada and elsewhere. Those media reports generally asked if “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” was real. After all, as Horn says, golden eagles have been “filmed hunting reindeer calves and adult deer.”

A number of bird watchers were not at all pleased about the video, which does not exactly portray eagles in a positive light. Horn cites this post by the Black Swamp Bird Obseratory:

… This kind of publicity does so much damage to birds and we hope that if you see the video posted that you will inform people that it is not real. Here’s what Kenn Kaufman had to say about the video:

“A golden eagle tries to snatch a baby in Montreal,” and the video goes viral. But it’s faked. Golden Eagle is a scarce visitor in the Montreal area, but the bird in the video is not a Golden Eagle, nor anything else that occurs in the wild in North America. This was clearly a setup: using a falconer’s bird, and probably a fake toddler for the distant scene. With all the ignorance about nature that’s out there already, the last thing we need is this kind of stupid garbage.

Perhaps it is all much ado, a big flap-up, about a video. But the video’s creators knew they were unleashing a hoax video and one that seemed to portray a bird attacking a toddler. Do the creators bear some responsibility for perpetuating a negative image of eagles and of nature and all the more in light of another recent well-publicized hoax, the prank phone call by two Australian radio hosts to the British hospital where Kate Middleton was staying due to morning sickness? The nurse who took the call committed suicide shortly afterwards and the radio show of the two hosts has been cancelled.

A Video About Something “Deep and Archetypal” In Us?

On KCET, Chris Clarke writes that “Golden Eagle Snatches Kid” went viral because it showed us nature in all its terrifying, untamed power, something it rarely does these days when technology (um, guns and other weapons) has made us masters of the planet. Today, we pose the main threats to ourselves and our children, says Clarke:

We’ve spent the last week grappling with just how close to us the Newtown shooter was. We bandy phrases like “mentally ill,” “deranged,” “evil,” to reinforce the separation between those of us who are “normal” and the predator who did such a horrible thing. It’s hard to accept the fact that not so long ago the Newtown shooter was one of those kids; that one of his victims likely wanted to protect him every bit as much as the fallen teachers wanted to protect their students.

I wonder whether part of the eagle video’s astonishing popularity lies in the fact that this week of all weeks we really needed to hear the older version of the story again. The version where the child is threatened by something wholly unlike us, that we need not empathize with.

The eagle-snatching-child video evokes, Clarke writes, something “dark and archetypal” in us – a fear of unseen predators in the dark night emerging from a mysterious forest (as in a Brothers Grimm fairy tale) and snatching up little children.

Videos of animals doing all manner of things are everywhere on the Internet. Many are enjoyable to watch precisely because they are, or we think they are, real and show us the amazing things animals can do. Others (a sheep born with an upside-down head? a dolphin pod?)  should give us pause. How do we determine the real from the fake?


Related Care2 Coverage

Cute Animal Video of the Day: Meet Bambu, the Rescued Pudu Deer

Does Darwin the IKEA Monkey Have the Right to Choose?

Cute Animal Video of the Day: Penguin Teamwork


Image from a screenshot of a video uploaded by Amir Khan/YouTube


Colleen Prinssen
Colleen P4 years ago

it is bad, because now people will have stories of "bird will get your baby" like "cats suck breath out of infants" "earwigs go into your brain" "wolfs want to shank you"
"rats carry germs and parasites that harbor sickneesses"

as for "why to we have to be entertained by animals". i guess that includes teaching dogs tricks. if wolves don't walk on their hind legs and dance around, then a four legged dog (not one who has no front limbs) dosen't need to be taught how to dance for or enjoyment. Just as dolphins should not leap on comand.

same goes with a horse, to teach a horse to bow down and roll over.

I still say, if we had Haast's eagles, they would eat our infants.

Daely Alexis
Daely A4 years ago

Who really cares. Any one in their right mind after understanding that the video was not real should still be wary of nature. I saw this video and thought Oh my God it actually happened! See it can happen! This last summer a bald eagle was stalking a toddler on the beach (New Brunswick). I in turn was stalking the toddler too, keeping my eye on the bird while his mother was 5 feet away from her child too busy taking pictures!

Bear in mind, birds of prey snatch dogs and other large animals..why COULDN'T it happen? Hoax, yes for school. I give the boys credit for such a well done job.

Tim C.
Tim C5 years ago


Alicia Guevara
Alicia G5 years ago

I think videos like this are a very bad idea.

Carrie Anne Brown
Carrie-Anne B5 years ago

thanks for sharing

Melania Padilla
Melania P5 years ago

How can people be that ignorant? This type of videos are bad for animals! They are already in troubles around the globe! This is so wrong, it should be illegal.

Andrew C.
Andrew C5 years ago

I agree with Heather M.

Tia Simon
Tia S5 years ago

Why do people incessantly use animals in entertainment, at the animals, and entire species expense? Human nature is ugly and cruel -these are normal good people, who still are ignorant, insensitive, uneducated on life itself, and have no idea what is in their own backyard that they've known for 20 years. Dumb bliss while the Earth species die off.

Colleen Prinssen
Colleen P5 years ago

you know what videos I think are bad hoaxes? the ones where parents say their babies that were born with severe autism but were cured are.

Heather M
Heather M5 years ago

These fake videos only create problems.