Pancho & Lefty, the wonderful two-headed snake, is back to good health and wowing crowds once again at the Cameron Park Zoo in Waco, Texas. For the last couple of years, Pancho & Lefty has been privately recovering from an injury to one of his necks. Apparently, his two brains sometimes give conflicting commands to his single body. He injured his neck attempting to move in two different directions at the same time and getting caught on a branch or rock.
"He had a wound on his left neck so we took him off exhibit to heal," the zoo explained on Facebook. "Our veterinary and reptile teams worked hard to keep the wound bandaged and clean. It took until June last year for the wound to fully heal. Now that he has been eating well and the wound has been fully closed for a year, we are excited to put him back out in the freshwater aquarium building. You may notice that his exhibit does not have many obstacles besides grass. We are hoping that this design provides enough cover for the snake to feel secure while also being physically safe, so he does not injure his neck again."
Pancho and Lefty first arrived at the zoo back in 2016. A woman who lives near Waco spotted the snake in her backyard when it was just a baby—at the time, biologists estimated the eight-inch-long creature to be between six and eight weeks old. The reptile, a Western rat snake (Pantherophis obsoletus), underwent an 18-month quarantine before going on display in 2018.
The snake has a rare condition called bicephaly, which occurs when a single embryo starts to divide into identical twins but fails to separate completely. When this situation arises in humans, it's known as conjoined twins. Scientists can trace the phenomenon back at least 150 million years, thanks to the discovery of a two-headed reptile fossil in present-day China.