Heading out to California this summer? If you'll be in the Venice Beach area, you could get to see a real live two-headed dragon that was recently purchased for $5,000. This is not your Puff or Lord of the Rings giant variety two-headed dragon. Pancho and Lefty are teeny and fit in the palm of your hand, as you can see in the picture. Not to confuse things, but they are technically lizards, native to Australia, but the genus goes by the common name "bearded dragon."
Pancho and Lefty are the latest attractions at the Venice Beach Freak Show, a PT Barnum-style circus freak display of odd people and even odder animals, like a man who hammers nails in his nose and five-legged dogs. The show is said to have one of the largest collections of two-headed animals in the country.
The medical term for this condition is conjoined twins (identical twins whose embryos did not separate completely). It's rare in both animals and humans, though there have been numerous cases of humans being conjoined at birth, as well. Many parents opt to separate their children in long and risky operations, but in some cases it's not medically possible, the most famous of which is Brittany and Abigail Hensel from Minnesota, who are now 20 years old.
While the tendency is to feel sorry for children like Brittany and Abigail, watching them on Oprah and the Discovery Channel special, you realize how full and wonderful their life really is. Life is full of difference, and where some people would look at Pancho and Lefty and think "freak," I look at them and say "wonder" and "miracle." It's amazing how life struggles to find a way even at the greatest genetic and developmental odds, how the body discovers a way to compensate for what it has gained or lost. You can't help but stop and appreciate that.
You can think about it that way, or you can visit the attraction and just have fun. Either way, you gotta admit that Pancho and Lefty are really cute.