Bisexuality Is Surprisingly Common Among Animals

Image: Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Commons

Research indicates that bisexuality is prevalent in the animal kingdom — including courtship, affection, and parenting among same-sex animal pairs.

As many as 1,500 wild and captive species have been observed displaying homosexual behaviors. This applies to both males and females of all ages and species, from the tiniest insects to the largest mammals.

The animals do not exclusively perform homosexual acts, but instead seem to implement them into heterosexual lifestyles, making them “bisexual”, so to speak. The reasons for these behaviors vary, including a basic desire to diffuse sexual tension, a strategy for better protecting their young, and most of all to keep the peace within social groups. Sometimes, they also seem to do it for simple enjoyment.

Image: Rob Bixby via Wikimedia Commons

Bonobos are the perfect examples of peace-keeping, socially bisexual animals. These highly promiscuous primates — infamous for their same-sex romps, including girl-on-girl genital rubbing and “penis fencing” between males — may actually have developed evolutionary adaptations that encourage such activities.

Female bonobos have developed clitorises that are “frontally placed, perhaps because selection favored a position maximizing stimulation during the genital-genital rubbing common among females,” Marlene Zuk, researcher and author of the book Sexual Selections: What We Can and Can’t Learn about Sex from Animals, in an article published in Scientific American.

Image: Brocken Inaglory, Wikimedia Commons

In less social species such as koalas and penguins, captivity may be an underlying factor behind displays of homosexual behavior. The increased stress of an enclosed habitat possibly raises the likelihood of homosexual activities performed for relaxation purposes.

Either way, one thing is clear:

“Animals don’t do sexual identity. They just do sex,” states sociologist Eric Anderson.