Overnight Delivery

Page five of the May 30, 1912 Skidmore New Era quietly reported what was undoubtedly not at all a quiet event in Maryville:

A sure enough live alligator caused a great stampede in the Wells Fargo express office in Maryville last week, when the Saurian, which was shipped in there by express, broke out of his box and came waddling up to a bevy of lady clerks, who were unaware of the “gator’s” presence in the office.  A lively mounting of chairs and a terrific screaming by the ladies brought a number of men and boys to the rescue and the reptile was soon again captured and caged.

This made your humble Storyteller curious.  How does one ship a live alligator in this era of overnight delivery?  As it turns out, FedEx may agree to ship livestock, zoo animals, and, yes, reptiles, and the company even has a toll-free number for its Live Animal Desk.  UPS will ship a lizard if it’s individually contained in a bag made of breathable material inside a new box, and it will accept frogs, toads, bees, crickets, iguanas, mollusks, and fish, but it won’t take alligators or “obnoxious insects” such as flies, roaches, termites, and mosquitoes.  (We applaud them for their stance against the obnoxious.)  The U.S. Postal Service declares chickens and baby alligators not more than 20 inches long to be “mailable,” but it won’t accept squirrels, parakeets, canaries, or mice.  One can, however, mail live scorpions, so long as they are intended for use in medical research and are packaged in a double mailing container that is clearly marked “Live Scorpions.”  That’s one delivery the neighbors probably wouldn’t take in for you.

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