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article imageGoogle Maps Street View: Did they kill a donkey in Botswana?

By Anne Sewell     Jan 15, 2013 in Internet
A Google Maps Street View image is doing the rounds on the Internet, as it appears that the vehicle used by Google may have literally hit a donkey and run.
You can see the offending street view right here, near Kweneng, Botswana.
After the image of a donkey. that appeared to have been either knocked over or left helpless, was shared so widely on the Internet, the Atlantic was very moved, and they immediately contacted Google.
According to a Google spokesperson, "Our Street View teams take the safety of people and donkeys very seriously."
However, it all depends on your perspective when viewing the image. And with Google cars and their 360-degree mounted cameras, there are two different views indeed. If this was taken with a rear-facing camera, then it would likely be a clear hit and run. However, if the camera was front-facing, then maybe the donkey was having a dust bath, and jumped up to wave as the Google car passed by.
Australia's News Limited's reporter, Claire Porter, also questioned Google, who said that it was the latter of the possibilities and that no animals were harmed when filming this particular bit of street.
Allegedly Google sent some internal Street View images to News.com.au, showing that the vehicle approached the donkey which was already lying down, and then gets up and walks on down the street. However, Google did not give permission for these images to be published.
There is apparently a problem with the images though, as if what Google is saying is correct, then based on the images, the donkey appears to be walking backwards.
Apparently the first image, they say captured from the front camera, shows the donkey lying down between two prominent tire marks.
In the second image, the donkey is getting up.
In the third, the donkey is shown standing off and to the left of the image, several meters behind where it fell.
In the fourth image, the donkey is even further back to over to the left.
Now, Google says these images happened in sequence but this makes no real sense. With the large amount of space between the spot where the donkey fell and where it is standing again in the second shot, he would have had to leap quite a distance at quite a considerable speed to get there.
The other dodgy thing is where the donkey allegedly "got up", there was no dirt impression left in the middle of the road and there were no footprints.
There's also the question of whether donkeys would usually lie down in the middle of the road for a rest?
News.com.au asked Roger Short, Adjunct Professor of Zoology at Melbourne University and he said, "Can you walk normally going backwards?," he said. "You might jog but you wouldn't run fast. Donkeys are not adapted to it. They can take a few steps but they would never normally walk backwards."
But still Google denies any harm to the donkey, "Our Street View teams take the safety of people and donkeys very seriously," the Google spokesperson said. "A review of our imagery confirms that we did not cause any harm to the donkey."
However, using the Google Maps Street View, if you zoom back past the fallen donkey, it can be seen standing on the road staring at the car:
Donkey seen standing on the side of the road staring at the Google vehicle.
Donkey seen standing on the side of the road staring at the Google vehicle.
Google Maps Street View
image:138710:0::0
Your thoughts? Do you think Google actually did commit a hit and run, or did the donkey merely get up, shake off the dust and stroll off into the bush?
More about Google, Street view, Donkey, Botswana, Google maps
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