Mail Boxes Etc. UK & Ireland's blog

Five-legged calf takes a ‘far-out’ trip

When Chippenham post, parcel and print specialist Mail Boxes Etc. was asked to ship a five-legged taxidermy calf to – of all places – Woodstock in the US recently, business owners Sandra and Keith Andrews admitted to doing a double take.

“We deal with a lot of auction houses and it’s not unusual to be asked to ship taxidermy animals,” says Sandra.  “For example, we once shipped a lion to an overseas buyer.  But when we were told that this calf had five legs, we did wonder for a moment whether we had heard correctly!”

The calf had been an exhibit at a museum in the Isle of Wight that was closing down.  Henry Haden, valuer at Criterion Auctioneers, who sold the item, explains: “The calf was quite a local celebrity – my wife remembered seeing it on a TV programme about the museum.  We deal with a lot of taxidermy pieces – there’s a renewed interest in them, particularly for display in bars, pubs and clubs.  They all have to be pre-1947 to comply with the law on import and export of endangered species, and this one dates from around 1920.”

Sandra Andrews’ first task was to ensure the calf could actually be shipped to the USA, consulting a specialist law firm that also provided the correct Latin name for customs purposes.  She then had to ensure the item had all the right export and import documents before securing a shipper.

“Many of our usual shippers won’t take taxidermy items,” she says.  “However, one of our preferred suppliers, Evolution Logistics, arranged to ship it, and the calf was sent to Woodstock as cargo via Thomas Cook Airlines, which made it seem a bit as though it was going on holiday! The customer duly received it, and was very happy with his purchase.”

Packing up a stuffed animal for safe transit is no easy task, and Sandra had to have a custom-made wooden crate prepared, ensuring that the calf was anchored in securely with several brackets so that it wouldn’t move.  “We particularly needed to protect those legs!” she says.  “We did enjoy dealing with this consignment – shipping antiques is really interesting, particularly when it’s something as quirky as this.  All our auctioneer customers know we’re a safe pair of hands though.”

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