YVONNE EPPS WRITES— When the western world first saw the platypus, they were confused, but curious. Now, whenever we encounter strange animals in the media, we have the same reaction –  but that curiosity is only satiated when those animals are actually real.

A man in the northern province of Vinh Phuc named Tung Nguyen posted pictures on Facebook of a large amphibian that he claimed he had captured in a local pond. The pictures attracted the attention of other Facebook users and even local authorities as the animal looked similar to a rare species of salamander.

These two simple images started a hunt for the mysterious animal. According to BBC News, Nguyen told Thanh Nien News that he sold the animal to unknown buyers, so authorities were tracking down its whereabouts. They intended to recover the animal so that researchers from the Institutes of Ecology and Biological Resources could learn more. It’s good that the authorities were willing to take up this case, but did they actually find it?

Unfortunately for the hopeful researchers and concerned Facebook users, it was all a wild goose chase. Thanh Nien News followed up with a report that Nguyen made up the story for attention by altering photographs. It was a wild ride while it lasted, but this story demonstrated two things that have been of the regime’s recent concern regarding social media: it cannot be stopped and the falsification of truth. it is easy to tell fanciful stories and nothing can prevent the lies from reaching the masses.

It’s a fun story at heart, but it becomes campy when it starts to prove the regime’s point.