The story begins with Doctor John Dolittle who is looking for some money to earn to pay off a voyage to Africa. The Doctor's idea is to get the Pushmi-Pullyu into the circus but he couldn't find one until Mathew Mugg suggest a small business circus owned by the ring master Blossum. The Doctor visits Blossum and persuades him to visit his house in Puddleby to discuss the payment and rules of the Pushmi-Pullyu before its performance in the circus. The Performance goes well after the Pushmi-Pullyu is put into the show and the doctor starts earning but he also discovers the animals who are in need of their cages cleaned which Blossum doesn't co-operate with when the doctor suggests some new ways to look after the animals. The doctor then meets Sophie the Alaskan seal, who is owned by Mr Higgins and she explains to him while crying that she misses her husband Slushy who is the alpha seal so the Doctor plans an escape for Sophie. When the night comes for the escape Doctor Dolittle waits in the street while Mathew and Jip get Sophie out of the circus but the guards shut the gate before the seal came make a break for it so Mathew and his wife Theodosia distract them by luring them to Sophie's tank and pushing them in. The whole circus goes into pandemonium when they see the disappearance of Mr Higgins's seal but Sophie manages to escape eventually while the Doctor becomes worried for waiting too long. When The Doctor and Sophie reach the outskirts of the town Sophie has an idea that if they follow the river they will get to the sea quicker so they consult the ducks who tell them to go to Talbot's Bridge which will lead them to Kippet River all the way to the Bristol Coast.