An 25 April 2017, an image purportedly showing a “water-bending squirrel” made waves on social media after it was posted to a Twitter account called “Fascinating Pictures”. It is, indeed, a fascinating picture, appearing to show a squirrel apparently using Katara-esque powers to bend a stream of water over its head.
As fascinating as it is, the image was digitally manipulated: It was created in 2014 in the “PhotoshopBattles” Reddit community, and was based off a 2010 photograph taken by 500px user Serge A. The original image, which showed the squirrel with its arms crossed but not the stream of water arching over its head, was entitled “Kung Fu Squirrel.”
Reddit user The6ftPianist explained how the image, which was originally dubbed “Northern Water Squirrel”, was created:
The program(GIMP in this case) actually did most of the work, all I did was get a stock photo of some water, selected the splash and made it transparent(there’s a option for it) and just pasted it in(as a new layer so I could move it). The hard bit was fiddling around with color settings ’til it sorta matched the photo.
Here’s a look at the water bending squirrel (right), the original “kung fu” squirrel (center), and the stock water splash image (left) that was used to create the viral image:
While we cannot definitively say that a squirrel that can bend streams of water with its mind does not exist (we have never seen proof that they can’t), this rodent’s magic was made with nothing more than Photoshop.