That's not a code phrase, in case you're wondering. I really do mean the pandas are safe. Last November, we were in Chengdu in Szechuan Province where the largest Panda sanctuary in the world is located and where I took this picture (lady, if you don't get out of my way, there's gonna be trouble...) There were quite a number of adults, loads of children and a couple of infants being hand-reared (the latter was, need I add, super-cute). We had a wonderful day there, despite the pretty weak museum — and the fact that my gastric system finally rebelled against the super-spicy food.
So, when we heard about the earthquake, we were naturally pretty worried for the pandas (we were worried for the people too, sure. But, come on: pandas). So it was a relief to read that they're doing well:
The earthquake killed four staff members and left a fifth seriously ill in hospital, officials said yesterday. Other workers risked their lives to fetch the tiniest cubs from the breeding centre and carry them to safety.This picture was taking in the People's Park in Chengdu, the capital. It was an immensely beautiful place, incredibly civilised. Desperately sad to think of it in ruins.
"When we saw the rock slides we were really worried," said Lu Yong, who has helped to care for the animals from birth and travelled to Beijing with them. "In a disaster the first thing we think of is the pandas and how to get them to safety. They were very scared and disturbed when the earthquake happened. They needed support from their keepers before they would eat again."