Need some baby chicks delivered direct to your home? The USPS will get them there for you. It turns out there are some things that the Internet simply cannot deliver, and that includes livestock and other animals that can be shipped via the USPS. The postal service has a list of animals it will deliver, and the requirements for the packaging and handling. The Wall Street Journal reports that, despite best efforts, animals can sometimes escape their packaging.
The USPS has been delivering live animals since at least 1918, according to post-office records. In the past three years, the federal agency has processed roughly 26,000 such packages, a majority of which are bees and newly hatched chicks, says USPS spokeswoman Kimberly Frum.
In 1954, a boy from Fostoria, Iowa, mailed his pet chameleon to the postmaster of Orlando, Fla., in a prestamped envelope because it was “to[o] cold for him here.” The postmaster, L.A. Bryant, wrote back to say the critter had been set free on the post office grounds, according to USPS historical records.
The rules for mailing animals have since gotten more elaborate, requiring special boxes and clear labeling. That hasn’t deterred people from sending a mind-boggling variety of animals via the USPS, sometimes illegally.
Accidents can occur.
Sue Brennan still remembers the time, years ago, when an improperly packaged container carrying a beehive broke open on the processing machine at the Merrifield, Va., post office. The queen bee fell out and the drones followed, said Ms. Brennan, who was then a postal clerk in Merrifield and is now a USPS spokeswoman. A professional bee keeper was called. Eventually, the bees were captured. No one was stung.
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