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"Lord save us!" cried the duck. "How does it make up its mind?"

The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Basic Information

Now extinct, the African Pushmi-Pullyu is certainly one of the most unusual creatures of the animal kingdom. It resembles an antelope, but has two heads: one facing forward, and the other facing behind where the tail should be. The legs on each end are oriented the same way as the corresponding head, so the creature in effect has two front ends and no back end. They are terribly difficult to catch because at least one head stays awake at all times.

According to the eminent naturalist John Dolittle, who brought one of the last Pushmi-Pullyus to England in the 1830s, they are related to the Abyssinian Gazelles and the Asiatic Chamois —as well as possibly having some Unicorn ancestry.

In the 1967 movie Doctor Dolittle, the Pushmi-Pullyu is depicted as resembling a two-headed llama and is said to come from Tibet.


2. "The Rarest Animal of All" from The Story of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

Game and Story Use

  • The Pushmi-Pullyu will probably work best in a lighter, more cinematic campaign. In anything more serious, someone is going to ask how the blessed thing poops.
    • Actually, someone is bound to ask that anyway.
    • A slightly more realistic Pushmi-Pullyu might have a normal animal body, but a secondary head attached to the base of the spine where the tail should be.
  • The PP may be an example of the same "evolutionary" forces as the amphisbaena.
  • The PCs might be traveling to Africa to capture a Pushmi-Pullyu. It won't be easy; they're wily creatures.
  • Like many fantastic animals it has allegorical qualities - albiet possibly accidental ones in this case. The Pushmi-Pullyu is often used as an allegory of various political setups (or, indeed, of democracy in general).
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