Slideshow: Boy reportedly makes friends with Austrian marmots

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AUSTRIA — A nature-loving family says their 8-year-old boy has become friends with some of the Austrian Alps’ shiest creatures.

The Daily Mail is reporting that Matteo Walch, 8, first started building a friendship with a colony of marmots four years ago on a vacation to the city of Groslocker. His family told the newspaper the boy’s relationship with the animals has grown as they have continued to visit the area for two weeks out of every year.

“Matteo loves those animals and they are not at all afraid of him because he has a feeling towards them and they understand that,” the boy’s father, Michaela, said. “It’s amazing to watch the connection between a boy and his animal friends.”

This report has made at least one person in this newsroom skeptical. That person asks, “Don’t these images,” which are posted above this story, “look Photoshopped?”

Now we’re asking you to tell us.

Click here to go to our Facebook page and and weigh in: Do you think Matteo Walch’s reported relationship with these marmots is real? Or do you think the above images — and the story of man befriending nature — appear to be trumped up?