When you want your business documents delivered the next day, or the shoes you purchased off the Internet to be delivered to your door right away, you usually rely on FedEx or UPS. The transportation giants deliver almost 25 million packages a day. While most are your run-of-the-mill deliveries, others are a bit more unusual. Just think, someone has to get that panda to the zoo.
We’ve compiled a list of the most outrageous deliveries, courtesy of FedEx and UPS. Click ahead to see the special deliveries that required more than just a box and some packing tape.
By Michelle Fox
Posted 18 January 2012
Keiko, star of the movie “Free Willy,” became the center of a real-life drama when the public discovered his poor living conditions and clamored for his release from captivity. When the killer whale’s owners in Mexico City donated him to the Free Willy/Keiko Foundation in 1996, it was UPS that transported him to a temporary home in the Oregon Aquarium. The plane carrying the 42,000 pounds of cargo had to make three stops to refuel before reaching its destination.
Keiko spent two years being nursed back to health and taught to live in the wild. He was eventually set free off the coast of Iceland. Sadly, Keiko died in 2003, a decade after appearing in “Free Willy.” He had been living off Norway.
When the Dyersburg Army Airbase Veterans’ Museum in Halls, Tenn., needed a Vietnam-era helicopter transported from Arizona, it called FedEx. CEO Fred Smith, who had served in the Marines, agreed to donate transportation and logistics expertise.
The CH-46 U.S. Sea Night Marine Corps helicopter, which weighs 15,000 pounds and is 45 feet long, took three days to disassemble. It is one of only two of its kind available for public viewing.
Both FedEx and UPS have shipped giant pandas aboard their respective “Panda Express” airplanes.
FedEx flew two pandas named Huan Huan and Yuan Zi (pictured left) from China to France in January aboard a Boeing 777F plane it dubbed the “FedEx Panda Express.” Once the flight landed, FedEx drove the pandas to their new home at the ZooParc de Beauval. The arrival of Huan Huan and Yuan Zi, on loan from China, marks the first time in more than 10 years that giant pandas will reside in France.
For UPS, it was “been there, done that.” More than a decade earlier, it airlifted Lun Lun and Yang Yang from Beijing to Zoo Atlanta. At the time, Zoo Atlanta was only the third zoo in the U.S. to house the cuddly rare mammals.
It was a UPS plane flight, not a ride on a Gotham bus, that got Alice and Trixie from Taipei to Atlanta for their honeymoons with male whale sharks Ralph and Norton in 2006.
The two female whale sharks made the 8,000-mile journey from Taipei to Atlanta on a specially configured UPS Boeing-747 freighter from Taiwan to the Georgia Aquarium.
Alice, 13 feet, 10 inches long, and Trixie, 15 feet, 5 inches long, joined Ralph and Norton, who were already at the aquarium. The species is known as the largest fish on Earth. Bang! Zoom! To the moon!
In 2010, the world held its collective breath as it watched 33 Chilean miners being rescued from 2,300 feet underground, where they were trapped for almost 10 weeks. A year later, one of the capsules used in the historic rescue went on tour — and was transported by FedEx. The shipping company had a special container designed to transport the 800-pound capsule.
The capsule, pictured left, made stops in Toronto and Ottawa, Canada, and Bochum, Germany, before landing at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. It is now part of the “Against All Odds” exhibit about the rescue. After the exhibit ends in October, FedEx plans to deliver the capsule and other materials back to Chile.
UPS, on the other hand, found itself in the middle of the rescue drama when it was asked to transport four drills to help free the miners. It also delivered 500 pounds of equipment that would help workers remove a broken piece of machinery in one of the rescue shafts. In all, the company handled seven shipments of drill bits and heavy equipment that aided in the rescue. The tab was picked up by the UPS Foundation.
Nine adult bald eagles flew across the U.S. — from San Francisco to Knoxville, Tenn. — aboard a FedEx cargo plane in 2007. They were en-route to their new home at the American Eagle Foundation’s United States Eagle Center in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. The foundation received the eagles from the San Francisco Zoo as part of its efforts in the recovery and protection of the national bird.
“They are all proven breeders, which we hope will provide many youngsters to release into our Smoky Mountain foothills,” the group’s founder and president, Al Cecere, said at the time.
When the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico threatened thousands of endangered sea turtle eggs on the beaches of Florida, FedEx teamed up with the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to move them to a safe location.
A team of biologists unearthed the nests and transferred the eggs into specially designed Styrofoam containers. The sensitive cargo was then transported in a temperature-controlled vehicle, which had a slotted aluminum floor that allowed airflow for each pallet holding the containers. The vehicles were also fitted with cushions to diminish vibrations while in transit.
About 70,000 endangered loggerhead turtle eggs were ultimately evacuated to Florida’s Atlantic coast.
When the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago needed to temporarily relocate seven beluga whales and four dolphins — including Cupid, pictured left — FedEx moved them from Chicago to Connecticut...and back.
The sea mammals were sent on a “vacation” to the Mystic Aquarium while the Oceanarium wing of the Shedd underwent a $50 million renovation.
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