The Pokémon Go subreddit page has descended into madness after users started posting videos and images of legendary Pokémon Articuno defending a Gym in Franklin, Ohio, on 1 August.
The game's source code has previously confirmed that the mythical ice-type Pokémon is obtainable within Niantic and The Pokémon Company's mobile smash-hit, but the creature does not appear in the wild.
Players have speculated that some kind of event will herald the arrival of Articuno and the other legendary Pokémon: Moltres, Zapdos, Mewtwo and Mew.
Nevertheless, several posters in a thread on Reddit have claimed that they have seen and even fought Articuno at at a Gym in Ohio.
By 'Gym' we mean a Pokémon Go Gym where trainers battle for supremacy of real-life landmarks within the GPS-powered app and not a real-life gym, of course.
While many are questioning the veracity of the images and footage, they do appear genuine and in keeping with the Android and iOS title's art design. The owner of the Articuno later surfaced in the thread, explaining that they received the ultra-rare Pocket Monster as a gift from Niantic:
"I have no idea why Niantic decided to give me an Articuno, but I surely do have one! Pretty amazing and I can't wait for Niantic to confirm its legitimacy, but it doesn't really matter...it can't be fake when people are battling it in a gym! It is what it is!...and it was obviously a promo to stir up hype, and it obviously has done that in no time at all!...and it wasn't b/c of a 'late response'... i had emailed them with a question on day 1 of release and they just emailed me back tonight stating they were gifting me with it!..and i'll be darned - it was right there in my pokedex!"
With many users dismissing the user's claims, "kaitcovey" continued:
"Yes, it is as crazy as it sounds! I was simply gifted a Articuno by Niantic - everything about it is legit! I really hope Niantic sees all the hype around this and confirms its legitimacy! All I can say is that it is obviously a promo Poke to stir up hype, and that happened in no time! I had Articuno in a gym tonight, but it just got beat! It is not unbeatable, thats for sure! Just super awesome....! It is what it is! Go Team Mystic!"
The links to the images have since been removed from the Reddit thread, however you can see them for yourself in these two Imgur posts. While the Facebook videos in particular appear genuine, it is still best to treat all of this as a rumour until Niantic verifies the owner's story.
Update: A second Articuno has allegedly been spotted, with this second avian rarity belonging to a Team Instinct player named Ocba.
Several posters in the Reddit thread have noted that an MITM Proxy found on GitHub is capable of changing the app's display to fake a Pokémon. The proxy works by intercepting the traffic between the app and the Pokémon Go servers, giving the user the option to alter in-game data. This however, would not account for other posters who claim to have visited the Gym and seen the Pokémon for themselves within their own game.