Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom
Behavioral observations show that nearly all animal species display homosexual behavior in some degree, both in the wild and in captivity. Same-sex relationships do not include only intercourse, but affection to the partner, pair bonding, and parenting also. Sexual diversity is common within the wildlife and it includes not only homosexual, but bisexual and nonproductive sex as well, and in some spices it takes place quite frequently.
This is an open research filed in animal science that can be explained in terms of adaptive evolution by some evolutionary paradox and by others a behavioral disorder. There is the understanding that this kind of behavior has not been reported due to the dominance of the heterosexual paradigm and Darwin’s theory of natural selection, but it is more widespread in the animal world that we apparently know.
“No species has been found in which homosexual behavior has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at all, such as sea urchins and aphis. Moreover, a part of the animal kingdom is hermaphroditic, truly bisexual. For them, homosexuality is not an issue” – zoologist Petter Bøckman declared.
It is estimated to be between 3 and 30 million species of animals inhabiting our planet. Today, homosexual behavior has been observed in close to 1,500 species, ranging from primates to gut worms, but generally not as an exclusive activity. However, there are exceptions. For instance, one exception is found in domesticated sheep:
“About 10% of rams (males) refuse to mate with ewes (females) but do readily mate with other rams,” neuroscientist Simon Levy states.
Homosexuality has been reported for all great apes, a group in which we humans are classified. One of our closes relatives, the dwarf chimpanzee, is also bisexual and demonstrates both homosexual and heterosexual behavior throughout their whole life.
“Sex among dwarf chimpanzees is in fact the business of the whole family, and the cute little ones often lend a helping hand when they engage in oral sex with each other,” Beckman explains.
Within the African wildlife, homosexuality is often seen in male lions, and it reinforces bonds and allegiance. Female lions are seen to enter pairings in captivity, but until recently, this was not seen in the wild. And it seems that young male giraffes undergo mating training with their own sex before they approach the lucky female.
African and Asian elephants, both male and female, are known to be loving partners for years. Bisexuality and homosexuality is also common among dolphins, where males commit to each other for years – a seventeen year long relationship was documented, as well as a whole pod of male dolphins engaging in group sex.
Within the bird world, albatrosses of Oahu are famously known for having thirty-one percent of the females paired together. Western gulls female couples compose fourteen percent of their flocks. The leading place for same-sex-activity among male birds goes to the Andean “cock of the rock” – up to forty percent engage within the same sex, while their females are not observed to exhibit homosexual behavior. One-quarter of Australian black swans are homosexual males, who sometimes form threesomes with females but only briefly, until they gain eggs.
Four to five percent of geese and duck populations are completely homosexual, devoted to their partner for life. Additionally, it has been observed that single females lay eggs in homosexual couple’s nest, for them to raise their offspring. And last year two male penguins in a Danish zoo adopted an abounded egg and acted as natural parents, successful ones. They aren’t the only ones: there are a number of reported cases describing male couple penguins using a stone as a replacement for an egg, and some penguins and vultures are known for raising chicks.
Insects’ homosexual mating is reported in dragonflies, fruit flies and bed bugs.
Obviously there is a lot of we do not know about the wildlife and the complexity within. Many are analyzing the meaning of these different sexual behaviors and most agree that homosexuality is a social phenomenon, whether the group is a heard, drove, or flock. One can ask: are those animal excluded for the group? No, they are not.
By: Milica Zujko