Google Says Street View Car Didn’t Hit That Donkey Lying In The Road, It’s Just Sleeping

Hey, donkey, you sleepin'?

Hey, donkey, whatcha doin’?

So there’s this donkey, on a road in Botswana, right? And like, it seemed as if he was just going along on his little donkey way when along comes Google’s Street View car and what’s this? Suddenly he’s lying on the ground. That is the sequence of events some are citing while accusing Google’s car of hitting — and gulp, maybe killing — the poor fella. But Google says its own set of pictures shows that’s not the case at all.

After a Twitter used posted a picture from Google Maps this week showing a donkey lying on the road in Botswana (perhaps dead, sadface) with a puff of dust perhaps indicating the impact of its fall, News.com.au wanted to see what the company would say about it. As in, did you drive over a donkey and leave it in the road or not? WELL, DID YOU?!?!?

When users of Google Maps zoom back along the road, the donkey is there, before it is hit, say critics, but Google says that’s actually after it had been lying in the road of its own accord and got up to walk back there.

The company reportedly provided internal images from Google Street View that tell their side of the story. Those images weren’t republished, so here’s News.com.au’s retelling:

In the photos, the company allege that the Google Street View car approached the donkey which was already lying down, which then gets up and continues walking uninjured. The problem with this version of events is that – based on the images – it appears as though the donkey is walking backwards.

The image – captured from the front camera of the car – featured the donkey lying down, in between two fairly prominent tyre marks. The second image shows the donkey getting up. The third image shows the donkey standing off and to the left, metres behind where it fell. The fourth image shows the donkey even further back and to the left. Google claims the photos show the events in the order they occurred.

Hold up — donkeys walking backwards? Sounds odd, we agree. It also would’ve had to jump up right quick to suddenly be standing unscathed a considerable distance away, points out News.com.au. Then there’s the problem of an absence of donkey prints leading up to the spot where it was supposed to lying, and no impression from its body to indicate it’d just been lounging around. And what about that puff of dust?

Google’s spokesperson denies there’s anything funky about this donkey business:

“Our Street View teams take the safety of people and donkeys very seriously,” the spokesperson said. “A review of our imagery confirms that we did not cause any harm to the donkey.”

Whether he was taking a snooze or did get clipped by the Google Street View car, it is our greatest hope and fondest wish that the little guy is prancing safely somewhere and will learn to stay off the roads. Unless it’s gone on to that dirt road in the sky, in which case, have fun, Mr. Donkey.

UPDATE: Maybe Eeyore is safe after all! Consumerist reader Mike points us to Google’s LatLong blog where the company makes its case, complete with photos. We hope it was just a dust bath, indeed.

Did Google run over a donkey in Botswana? (No, it’s just walking backwards) [News.com.au]