With more than three million views, an online video that shows a large eagle swooping down and snatching a baby with its talons was a hoax created by four Montreal students.

After creating a frenzy on the Internet, the students – Normand Archambault, Loic Mireault, Antoine Seigle and Felix Marquis-Poulin – claimed responsibility for the one-minute clip and assured people that a child was not attacked by an eagle.

The students created the video for a class in the 3D Animation and Digital Design program at Montreal’s Centre NAD.

After the video was posted Tuesday, social-media networks and blogs immediately lit up as people questioned whether it was an incredible moment captured on amateur video or the latest online prank to fool thousands of viewers.

As it turns out, it was the latter.

The video shows an eagle snatching the boy while he plays under the watch of his dad in a park, and then dropping him after lifting him a few feet off the ground.

The French-speaking cameraman curses in English and then runs over to comfort the boy and an adult who was with the child. A child's cry is heard before the moment is replayed in slow motion to the tune of "Chariots of Fire."

According to the students, both the eagle and the child that was "snatched" were created in 3D animation and integrated in to the film afterwards.

Before the students confirmed the hoax, the person who posted the video claimed the incident took place in Mount Royal Park in Montreal.

“A golden eagle tries to snatch a baby in Montreal! What if he got away with it!?” wrote the person, who goes by the username MrNuclearCat.

Experts say no way

As Internet users debated the authenticity of the video, which garnered millions of views on YouTube, bird experts were quick to declare it a hoax.

On its Facebook page, the Ohio-based Black Swamp Bird Observatory urged people not to believe everything they see on the Internet.

“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,” the group says.

In the Facebook post, group member and bird expert Kenn Kaufman suggested the snatching was a "setup."

“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,” Kaufman said in the post. “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.”

Members of the Isle of Mull (U.K.) Eagle Watch group told their Twitter followers the bird in the video was a juvenile eastern imperial eagle, not a golden eagle.

After watching the video, someone with the group tweeted: “Yes had it confirmed as fake. & not even a golden eagle! Its a juv eastern imperial eagle not known to frequent Montreal parks!”

The bird watcher wasn’t convinced because, according to an earlier tweet, the slow motion replay didn't match with the "original" clip.

Video becomes latest Internet hit

As expected, the video quickly made the rounds and became a global sensation.

Newspapers and online news sources from around the world picked up on the story, with some taking a cautious approach and others being a tad bold.

“Babysnatch!” the U.K. tabloid Daily Mail declared in a headline on its website. “Kidnapper from the skies: The terrifying moment a golden eagle swooped down and snatched up a toddler as he played in park.”

In a comments section on YouTube, the video was met with immediate skepticism.

“Yeah this is why people shouldn’t believe everything they see on the internet,” wrote a user named Joel Crump.

A user by the name of aaddaammize explained why he or she doubted the authenticity of the clip.

“Under close analysis, the eagle's shadow pops in 1 frame after the eagle itself, and for one frame the eagle's right wing is transparent,” the person wrote. “When released, the child impossibly increases his speed of ascent before it begins to decrease.”

Others, however, were certain the incident was legitimate.

FuturisticHub, a user who claims to be a 3D artist, insisted the clip was not fake.

“The physics of this is completely natural, not animated, not computer,” the person said. “The shading doesn't exist in any program and this is completely real. My channel is a 3D channel, btw. I am experienced in CGI/FX etc.”

And then there were those who decided to give a humorous take on the video.

Said YouTube user Kenny Ngo, “how do you explain that to the wife?”

@ChrisKitching is on Twitter. Don't forget, for instant breaking news, follow @CP24 on Twitter.