The data on homosexual behavior between animals has been pretty scant, but not because it hasn’t been happening. Though animals have been engaging in homosexual acts for millennia, scientists have been suppressing the information due to conservative social attitudes toward same-sex behavior. In one particularly dramatic example, researcher George Murray Levick noticed homosexual behavior among Antarctic Adélie penguins in 1911. Since his findings were considered overly shocking for the time, they were repressed. The few copies available were translated into Greek and distributed among a small group of researchers to limit those who could understand them. Needless to say, gay animals are a bit controversial.
Recent scientific research has been much more diverse, not shying away from examples of homosexual behavior in animals but studying it instead. In fact, according to scientist Petter Bøckman, “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.” And that’s what you’ll see in this list: everything from the largest predator to the smallest insect displays homosexual behavior at some point, with some even showing it more than heterosexual behavior. Though some of this behavior has evolutionary benefits, some is done purely for bonding or pleasure. Did you know elephants engage in same-sex activity? How about one of the smartest animals on the planet, dolphins? Or countless species of our closest relatives? Made up of mammals, birds, fish, and more, the diversity of gay, lesbian, and bisexual animals may surprise you. To see which well-known animals made the list, check out these 25 Gay Animals You Might Not Realize Are Indeed Gay.
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Giraffes are some of the gayest animals on the planet. Nine out of ten sexual pairings occur between males, and males will often caress each other with their necks before mounting and reaching climax. Depending on the herd, anywhere from 30-75% of the giraffes would engage in same-sex behavior.
Aptly-named, the Guianan cock-of-the-rock is a bird living in mountainous regions of northern South America. Almost 40% of the birds engage in homosexual activity, and some never even copulate with a female. One source even claims the bird shows a “delight in homosexuality.”
Among Panthera leo, though female pairings are sometimes seen in captivity, male pairings are more thoroughly documented. Male lions engage in homosexual behavior such as nuzzling, mounting, and thrusting other male lions. Just like #11, about 8% of lion mountings are onto other males. (There’s even a video of a lion threesome at the Wuppertal Zoo where the three lions engage in same-sex behavior.)
If you’re worried about cockroaches, here’s one worse: the flour beetle. This tiny pest can survive more radiation than cockroaches and is resistant to a host of insecticides. These critters are often found in wheat and other grains in your house. The male flour beetles have a clever trick to boost their genes’ chances of survival: males have sex with other males to practice mating and to dispose of “old, less effective” sperm.
Homosexual behavior among penguins is one of the better-studied examples in the animal kingdom. The study of Adélie penguins from the intro was published in 2012, 101 years after its initial release, showing significant homosexual behavior. For decades, zoos across the world have commonly reported gay male penguin couples. In fact, Roy and Silo, two paired male penguins at the Central Park Zoo, successfully hatched and fostered an egg in 2004. It seems this behavior is quite common with male penguin pairs – even building nests and substituting similar stones for eggs.