Top 8 Most Unusual Things We’ve Ever Shipped
From artwork to animals, shipping weird and wonderful items is what we do best. We count down some of the strangest shipments we’ve sent around the globe.
From entire museum exhibitions to endangered animals, here’s a look at some of the strangest shipments we’ve logged to date.
1. Endangered turtle eggs, Gulf of Mexico to Florida
With hatching season imminent, we worked with scientists to quickly create a safe and secure transportation solution. To ensure the gentlest care and protection of the turtle nests and eggs, they travelled exclusively in FedEx Custom Critical air-ride, temperature-controlled vehicles. A beautiful species that we were only too happy to help.
2. Ancient Egyptian artefacts, Los Angeles to Paris
Incredibly fragile and sensitive to humidity, temperature, motion and impact, transporting ancient relics is anything but easy. To ensure secure transport, we packed more than 150 exhibition pieces in custom-built crates. The painstaking process was overseen by members of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, and the crates were fitted with special tilt-sensing recorders.
3. White tigers, United States to Bangkok, Thailand
Back in 2002, FedEx was honored with the duty of transporting not one but six white tigers from Nashville and Oklahoma, U.S. to the capital of Thailand. Under the Species Survival program, special efforts are in place to ensure the longevity of these incredible animals and protect them from the fate of illegal inbreeding.
A special MD-11 jet from Memphis carried the precious cargo, with 6 separate enclosures each housing an animal of around 3,500 lbs, to the final destination in Bangkok. The tigers were accompanied by specially trained vets and zoo attendants who ensured the big cats’ journey was comfortable and smooth.
4. Van Gogh’s dining table, France to Switzerland
While preparations for a seminal Van Gogh exhibition were underway at the Kunstmuseum Basel in 2009, a nearby hotel decided to transport the world famous Van Gogh Table from the Auberge Ravoux in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, to Basel.
The Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois offered a special ‘Menu Van Gogh’ – and a closer look at the table – with some of the artist’s favourite French dishes to complement the exhibition nearby. FedEx teamed up with the art historians and hoteliers to conduct safe and secure passage for the priceless piece of furniture.
5. Beaujolais Nouveau wine, France to Japan
Japan is a huge market for Beaujolais Nouveau. In November 2004, FedEx took the special wine to the skies, shipping 504,000 bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau wine from Lyon-Saint-Exupery Airport to Japan. As wine is a delicate and potentially volatile product, FedEx needed to ensure that we could transport it at the correct temperature and tilt angle to ensure the uncorking ceremony went without a hitch. An annual uncorking celebration saw Japanese oenophiles uncork over 630 tons of wine!
6. Parts from the historic Titanic, Milan, Italy to Atlanta, Georgia
For the Atlanta museum, putting on the 2006 ‘Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition’, featuring recovered treasures from the deep, was a momentous milestone. And then calamity struck. Exhibition artefacts bound for Atlanta from Greece became stranded when they were mistakenly re-routed from Athens to Italy, and then held by Customs who refused to release them. With the museum at a loss, FedEx stepped in.
In a race against time to move the special cargo in time for the exhibition opening, our European and US offices worked round the clock to pull off the unique shipment, which even included a 3,000-lb piece of the ship’s original hull.
As a gift to art lovers everywhere, we donated our time and resources, shipping a momentous piece of history at no fee.
7. Search for Amelia Earhart, Los Angeles to Hawaii
On the 75th anniversary of Earhart’s disappearance in 2012, FedEx joined a special mission to search for the missing aircraft and solve one of the 20th century’s most enduring puzzles. We teamed up with TIGHAR and the Discovery Channel to put our own air logistics expertise to the test.
With a plan to comb the ocean underneath Earhart’s supposed flight path, the expedition’s deep water search off the coast of Hawaii was made possible by the use of specialized robotic equipment that we shipped in especially from the continental U.S.
Three containers weighing 25,890 lbs consisting of the expedition’s underwater Remote Operated Vehicle (ROV) unit travelled more than 2,200 nautical miles by ocean freighter between Los Angeles and Honolulu. We also flew in nearly 6,000 lbs of additional equipment from Massachusetts, including the project’s Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) that uses sonar to continuously search the deep waters for signs of aircraft.
A key step towards discovery of Earhart’s final moments, the mission was a rewarding one for us. And yet, the search for an answer continues.
8. Giant panda, USA to China
- One specially branded Boeing 777 FedEx plane, the Panda Express, on a 16-hour nonstop flight from Washington to Chengdu
- Special on-board enclosure maintained at 65 degrees Fahrenheit – just how Bei Bei likes it
- Over 70 lbs of Bei Bei’s favorite treats, including bamboo, apples, biscuits and sweet potato
- 2 dedicated companions – a Smithsonian National Zoo keeper and a vet
When the time came for 4-year-old Bei Bei to follow his brother and sister to China’s Giant Panda Conservation and Research Center, FedEx knew what to do. This being our eighth successful panda shipment, we know what it takes to ship giant pandas in specially controlled conditions to keep them safe, healthy and happy. To facilitate Bei Bei’s return to his home country, we worked with the Smithsonian Zoo in Washington to make the panda journey, ‘Operation Bei Bei’ a success.
We wish Bei Bei the best and are proud be part of his story. And who knows – the Panda Express may fly again in future! We’ll be standing by, just in case.
For more interesting stories, why not follow us on LinkedIn? And for a step-by-step guide on how to ship sensitive items or parcels that are tricky to pack, head here.