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Wild things

The year in animal encounters

Albert Pallotto, a Guilford, CT, rural carrier, delivers fan mail to Sharpy.

There are few places in America without a postal presence, so it is little wonder that USPS workers cross paths with members of the animal kingdom from time to time.

What is a little unusual is when the animals come looking for USPS, as was the case with an alligator in Florida.

The 7-foot-long specimen was discovered in the 24-hour lobby of the Spring Hill Post Office by a very surprised customer one June day at 3 a.m.

The “mailagator” was eventually returned to his natural habitat, but not before inspiring wild speculation as to its motivation (as well as lots of puns).

Geese in Ohio also drew a bead on the Postal Service.

They apparently resented the Cincinnati Network Distribution Center’s encroaching on what they viewed as their turf and registered their displeasure by dive-bombing workers entering and exiting the facility.

Then there were the calling cards. Cleanup cost thousands every year until John Pittl, a maintenance operations supervisor, staked some cardboard cutouts of coyotes in the grounds surrounding the building. The geese moved on.

In May, USPS released its Heritage Breeds Forever stamps, which helped raise awareness of the importance of heirloom farm animals in this age of factory farming and hybridization.

The Postal Service consulted with the Livestock Conservancy in the effort.

Photographer Aliza Eliazarov captured the chosen animals on film and is passionate about the cause.

“Biodiversity in our livestock and poultry populations is critical for global food security,” she is quoted as saying in a Link profile.

But she also sees reason for hope. “A silver lining of this pandemic has been an increased appreciation and support for small local farms,” she said.

Among her subjects was Sharpy, an American Mammoth Jackstock donkey who became a celebrity of sorts when he took part in the stamps’ dedication ceremony at George Washington’s estate in Mount Vernon, VA, posing for pictures and wearing a customized bridle that read “I’m on a postage stamp.”

Back home in Connecticut, Sharpy soaked up even more love as he received a special thank-you note from Amy Gibbs, a USPS strategic communications specialist, delivered straight to his farm.

Gibbs told Link she wanted to thank Sharpy “for being such a superstar for the Postal Service.”