'Baby werewolf' dupes social media users around the world
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Photos and a video showing a nearly hairless humanoid creature with paws, a tail and pointy teeth have gone viral – especially in Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil. For the past 10 days, people on social media have been hotly debating the possible existence of a “baby werewolf” or a “half-human, half-animal creature”. But the real answer has nothing to do with the supernatural.
Many Indonesian social media users shared photos that were included in a post on the "AKU CINTA ALLAH" ("I love Allah") Facebook page on October 11 along with the caption: “This baby was discovered. It’s the result of sexual relations between a lioness and a human. This will be the end of the world ... Type amen and share…”
The photo was shared more than 40,000 times.
Fyant Layuk, one of our Indonesian Observers, said:
This is a classic method used to get clicks: Pages will post photos that are very sad or shocking, often showing a baby or an elderly person. They wish the person good luck and then at the end of the post they will ask people to like the post and type a message, like “Amen” or “Good luck” or “Wishing you good health”, and share the post. A lot of people fall for these stories.
In Brazil, a social media user shared one of the photos on Facebook on October 12, writing: “Have mercy! And I thought I had seen everything …” Her post was shared more than 29,000 times.
Malaysian police react with a statement
The post that was most widely circulated in Malaysia was a video uploaded on the YouTube page of user "Shah R". The “baby werewolf” video is the only video on the page.
The caption reads: "Strange creatures were discovered in the forests of Pahang (Editor’s note: One of 13 states in Malaysia). When it was discovered, the creature was still alive. Now it is in a secret laboratory ..." Shah R doesn’t cite any sources or give any proof to back up his statements but the video was shared more than 40,000 times.
Other Malaysian Facebook pages (examples here and here) also shared the video, with the same explanation.
These images were shared so widely that authorities felt it necessary to react. According to local media, the chief of police in Pahang made a statement explaining that his department had received no reports of the discovery of such a creature.
The police chief encouraged people to stop sharing the story, maintaining that the photos were false, that they had emerged from the depths of the internet and were randomly associated with Pahang.
A silicon figure made in Italy
However, just a little bit of internet research is enough to figure out that this creature is actually a small figurine made of silicon by Italian artist Laira Maganuco. On her Facebook page, she describes herself as a “self-taught artist making creatures and highly realistic subjects out of soft silicon”. Her website and Facebook page are full of photos of similar creatures.
Maganuco posted a video and photos of her creation herself on October 5, announcing that her "platinum silicone baby werewolf" creations were now available for sale.
The video, which she posted on her page twice, had been viewed more than 5.3 million times at press time.
Buyers can purchase the figurine for €200 on Maganuco’s website, which also offers custom-order creatures and shipping anywhere in the world.
Maganuco posted the first photos of the figurine on September 28 while she was still working on it.
"People all over the world thought that it was a living thing, which shows that it was pretty good!”
The FRANCE 24 Observers team reached out to Maganuco.
At first, I was really annoyed when the photos of my figurine went viral. It annoyed me to see people freaking out over nothing. However, at the same time, I was satisfied that people all over the world thought that it was a living thing, which shows that it was pretty good!
I am really proud that there was so much interest in my "creature" because I believe that art should shake people.
I am passionate about both hyper-realism and surrealism. The pieces I make are the fruits of my imagination. I work with different materials, including silicon. I experiment and invent different techniques. All different sorts of people buy my pieces and I’ve had requests from galleries who want to show my work.
However, not everyone on social media was duped by the photos. In the comments below the images that circulated, many people expressed their doubts and noted that the creature had the same expression in every photo. Some Facebook pages shared the image but mentioned that the baby werewolf was just a silicon model, including two Evangelical pastors based in Brazil (Marcio Santana and Valdir Soares).