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Mermaid hoax sets ratings record

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Posted at 10:04 AM, May 31, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-31 10:05:52-04

A mermaid special that aired on Animal Planet resulted in record-breaking ratings for the network – and it all turned out to be an elaborate hoax.

The “documentary” was advertised on the network as a follow-up to last year’s Mermaids: The Body Found, with what appeared to be new footage of the mythical creatures.

At the end off the documentary, there was a quick disclaimer that suggested the program was “science fiction” based on “scientific theory.”

The show’s executive producer said they wanted people to think it was real and made it into a documentary-style program.

The Daily Mail reports the network reeled in the biggest audience in its 17-year history with 3.6 million viewers watching the documentary.

In a statement, Animal Planet’s president and general manager Marjorie Kaplan said:

“The phenomenon of ‘Mermaids’ has truly been a watershed — and a watercooler — moment for Animal Planet. These extraordinary television specials have electrified, challenged and entertained television audiences and online fans alike.”