Well, this isn’t something you see every day — a male lion appearing to attempt to mate with another male.
In the incredible footage above, three lions were warming themselves in the morning sun when things took an interesting turn. If you’re all about anthropomorphizing animals then you might describe the situation like this:
One of the lions mounts another and begins humping, while the object of his attention seems completely unfazed by the situation. Meanwhile, the third lion notices and graciously turns his back to give the two some privacy. Eventually, the suitor seems to realize that his affections aren’t being reciprocated (or even acknowledged) and moves on.
“For regular safari travelers like us, who have been visiting Africa for close to 20 years now, with more than 300 nights in the bushes of 7 different countries, mating lions is not a rare sighting,” Eugene, an engineer who filmed the video in Kruger National Park told LatestSightings.com. “However, a male-male combo was a first for us!”
But what’s really going on here?
While same-sex relations have been documented in various species, it’s unlikely that the lions were actually trying to mate.
Typically, when a female is in heat, the male stays with her constantly, mating with her multiple times — every 15 to 30 minutes or so over several days. And, once he ejaculates, the male usually lets out a loud yowl. None of that happened here.
Eugene’s theory is that the lion who initiated the behavior was simply trying to assert his dominance.
“Dominant male lions, and also other animals, such as elephants, will mount the other males to, in a way, show them who is boss,” he said.
But some researchers say that when males mount each other, it’s more likely a form of social bonding.
Rather than one male dominating all other lions in a given area, two to four of them might team up to form a coalition and lead a pride of lionesses. Because they rely on each other to defend their territory from other coalitions, their relationship is actually quite affectionate, Craig Packer, a professor at the University of Minnesota and an expert on African lions told The Washington Post.
“It’s a bromance, not ‘Brokeback Mountain,’” says Packer.
Whatever the reason for the strange behavior, it’s not as uncommon as you might think. Lion have been caught indulging in a little male-on-male action several times over the last few years – including in Botswana, Kenya and even a wildlife park in the United Kingdom.