Most of us have probably looked on Google Maps a time or two. They’re great when you’re traveling overseas and want to get a general idea of where things are. But when you’re looking up Hobson Bay Walkway in Auckland, New Zealand, the last thing you’d expect to see on the map is a giant image of a cat.
“According to Google, it would take three minutes to walk the [250 meters, or 820 feet] from the tip of the cat’s tail to its eyeball,” says the New Zealand publication, Stuff. the New Zealand news site that got tipped off to the rogue cartography writes. Though map-makers leave fake information in maps all the time to catch copy-cats (they’re called trap streets), Stuff.co.nz also reached out to Google’s Australian and New Zealand division, and were told Google wasn’t aware of the feline form.
“We were aware that cats were trying to take over YouTube, but we didn’t realize it was extending to Google Maps. We’re looking into this,” Google’s Annie Baxter told the site.
Using Google Map Maker, anyone can draw a road or add a place to Google Maps, but it doesn’t just show up on the public map automatically–it has to be reviewed and approved before it shows up on the public map. There’s a dedicated team of Google editors who approve new features, but many new additions to Google Maps can be reviewed and approved by other amateur Map Maker users, especially if the reviewer has a track record of good edits. National highways and well-known landmarks require multiple reviews, but a random hiking trail? Not so much.
So our mysterious cat cartographer could probably have done the job armed with a history of legitimate Map Maker changes and accomplice. As you might expect from someone nerdy enough to draw prank animals in Google Maps.