This 'flying penguins' animation is actually a spoof produced by the BBC for April Fool's Day in 2008

Copyright AFP 2017-2020. All rights reserved.

A video has been viewed hundreds of thousands of times in multiple posts on Weibo, Facebook and Twitter which claim it shows penguins flying in the South Pole. The claim is false; the video is actually computer-generated spoof created by the BBC in 2008 as part of an April Fool's Day hoax.

The one-minute 20-second video was published here on Weibo on April 9, 2020. It has been viewed more than 15,000 times.

Screenshot taken on November 16, 2020, of the misleading Weibo post

It purports to show penguins taking flight. A voiceover states they are a “recently discovered colony of penguins”. 

The video, which appears to have several watermarks, was published alongside a simplified Chinese-language caption that translates to English as: “#Penguin##PenguinDocumentary# Penguins can fly. A rare spectacle in the South Pole -- flying penguins flock across glaciers.”

The video was also shared here on Weibo, here and here on Twitter in 2020 alongside a similar claim. It was also previously shared here, here and here on Facebook, garnering hundreds of thousands of views.

The claim is false.

A keyword search found a longer version of the video published here on the YouTube account of the UK public broadcaster BBC, dated April 1, 2008. It is titled: “Flying Penguins | World Penguin Day | BBC”.

Below are two screenshot comparisons of the video in the misleading Weibo post (L) and the BBC’s YouTube video (R):

Screenshot comparisons of the video in the misleading Weibo post (L) and the BBC’s YouTube video (R)

A further keyword search on YouTube found another BBC video published here, on the same day, headlined: “Penguins April Fool - The Making Of - BBC”.

The video's description states in part: “A behind the scenes look at how the BBC created the BBC iPlayer trail for April Fools' Day, featuring a colony of flying penguins.” It then provides a link to “the April Fool video” which directs to the aforementioned flying penguins video on its YouTube channel.

A similar claim was also debunked by Chinese state media fjsen.com’s fact-checking team here.