The Guardian, which this week won a Pulitzer Prize for its reporting of Edward Snowdenâ€™s National Security Agency leaks, was one of the organisations that reported the hoax story that the Vatican employed a hawk called Sylvia to protect the doves periodically released by the Pope.
Other outlets to reproduce the story include Agence France-Presse and the Washington Times.
Josephine Siedlecka, founder of Independent Catholic News (ICN), said: â€œWe have often done April Foolâ€™s stories in the past but this one has been by far the most succesful. Iâ€™m astonished people fell for it. I thought it was too obvious.â€
The story on ICN claimed that the hawk, with a wingspan of 47 inches, was brought in after two doves released by children in St Peterâ€™s Square in January were set upon by a crow and a seagull. According to the joke report a spokesman said that the hawk would â€œact as an escort and protectorâ€ to the papal doves.
The Guardian has since removed its report on Sylvia the hawk, replacing it with a message reading: â€œThis article has been taken down on 9 April 2014 pending investigationâ€. [More]