Giant panda Ying Mei sits next to a box of food with the Brazilian flag on it, during an event called "Panda Predicts World Cup Results", ahead of the 2014 World Cup opening match between Brazil and Croatia, in Yangzhou, Jiangsu province, June 12, 2014.
China Daily / Reuters
June 16, 2014 12:02 PM EDT

China is backing out of a stunt in which pandas would make World Cup predictions, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Authorities worry that the swarm of people and cameras may jeopardize the health and safety of the animals, a spokesperson for China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas told the WSJ.

It was reported that the animals were expected to call matches by “either picking food from bowls marked with the national colors of competing teams, or climbing trees flying certain flags,” according to a post today on the WSJ blog China Real Time Report. According to the South China Morning Post, it was also suggested that pandas “would take part in races wearing the vests of different nations to predict winning teams.”

Fans will now have to turn to a Swiss guinea pig named Madame Shiva or a piranha named Pele for prognostications.

MORE: 1,600 Papier-mache Pandas Storm Hong Kong Airport

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at

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