| "'Feejee Mermaid' has become the generic term for the many fake mermaids that can be found around the world..."
This article contains information relating to a hoax. According to Cambridge dictionary a hoax is "a plan to deceive a large group of people; a trick."
The Gunni was a wombat-like cryptid with antlers, purportedly formerly found near Marysville, Victoria, Australia. A stuffed one was on display in the Marysville Visitors' Information Centre, along with other local wildlife including a Lyrebird and Leadbeater's possum, prior to the February 2009 Victorian bushfires. Reportedly, only three Gunnis have ever been found and the creature is generally regarded as a hoax which originated in 2003.
The reports have been circulating since a display of a specimen gunni, one of only three allegedly found to date, was set up in a cabinet at the Marysville visitors' information centre.
Pronounced "goon-eye", the gunni on show was reportedly found in 1967 by timber workers near Cambarville, 16 kilometres from Marysville.
The animal features deer-like antlers atop a wombat-like body, albeit one with striped markings on its back and hindquarters, and a tail. It is a striking example of the art of taxidermy - good enough to make some people believe it is real.
The gunni (Turpis maialis cimex), and a detailed account of its antecedents, was installed in the visitors' centre several weeks ago by a local ranger, Miles Stewart-Howie - a man known to love a joke - as a private project.
Tourists are intrigued by the display, and he is already receiving emails from interstate visitors who believe they encountered the gunni in Victoria - one even has what he believes are its droppings in cold storage.
According to the documentation, the gunni has long been thought to be a myth, and early sightings by goldminers who first penetrated the central highlands in the 1860s were put down to "fertile imagination" or rough liquor.
Marysville electrician Frank Murphy believes he saw a gunni in 1999 from about 200 metres on a property adjacent to thick bush, thinking at first it was a wombat - and then he saw the tail.
"I got the fright of my life," he said. "I thought it might have been somebody's dog lost, and then it turned around and had antlers on top of its head.
"It stayed still for 30 to 40 seconds and then it went into the bush." Mr Murphy said he thought sightings of the gunni might turn into a legend a little like Scotland's Loch Ness monster - "a Celtic-type thing, lots of whisky involved".
Although he hadn't been drinking before he saw the gunni, he said, "after I saw it, I went home and had quite a few."