Zoophilia, from the Greek ζῷον (zṓion, "animal") and φιλία (philia, "friendship" or "love"), is the practice of sex between humans and animals (bestiality), or a preference or fixation on such practice. A person who practices zoophilia is known as a zoophile.
Although sex with animals is not outlawed in some countries, it is not explicitly condoned anywhere. In most countries, such acts are illegal under animal abuse laws or laws dealing with crimes against nature.
There are three terms that are most commonly used in regards to the subject: bestiality, zoosexuality and zoophilia. The terms are relatively interchangeable. Zoosadism, sodomy and zooerasty are others closely related to the subject but are less homologous to the former or are uncommon usage. "Bestiosexuality" was discussed briefly by Allen (1979), but never became established.
The term "zoophilia" was introduced into the field of research on sexuality in Psychopathia Sexualis (1886) by Krafft-Ebing, who described a number of cases of "violation of animals (bestiality)", as well as "zoophilia erotica", which he defined as a sexual attraction to animal skin or fur.
Zoophilia can refer to sexual activity with animals (bestiality), the desire to do so, or to the paraphilia of the same name which requires a definite preference for animals over humans as sexual partners.
Some zoophiles and researchers draw a distinction between zoophilia and bestiality, using the former to describe the desire to form sexual relationships with animals, and the latter to describe the sex acts alone.
Masters (1962) uses the term "bestialist" specifically in his discussion of zoosadism, which refers to deriving sexual pleasure from cruelty to animals. Stephanie LaFarge, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the New Jersey Medical School, and Director of Counseling at the ASPCA, writes that two groups can be distinguished: bestialists, who rape or abuse animals, and zoophiles, who form an emotional and sexual attachment to animals. Williams and Weinberg studied self-defined zoophiles via the internet and found they saw the term as involving concern for the animal's welfare and pleasure, and an emphasis on believing they obtained consent, as opposed to the zoophile's concept of bestialists, who zoophiles defined as a group who focused only on their own gratification. Williams and Weinberg also quoted a British newspaper as saying that zoophilia is the term used by apologists of bestiality.
The more recent terms "zoosexual" and "zoosexuality" have been used since the 1980s (cited by Miletski, 1999) to refer to zoophilia as a sexual orientation. The concept of zoophilia as a sexual orientation, as opposed to a fetish, paraphilia or affective bond, can be traced back to research such as Masters in the 1960s.
The term 'zoosexual' itself was cited by researchers such as Miletski in the 1990s. It was seen as a value-neutral term which would be less susceptible to being loaded with emotion or rhetoric. Usage of the noun form can be applied to both a "zoosexual (person)" which is synonymous with zoophile, and a "zoosexual act", synonymous with bestiality or depending on the context zoophilia.
Ernest Bornemann (1990, cited by Rosenbauer 1997) coined the separate term "zoosadism" for those who derive pleasure from inflicting pain on an animal, sometimes with a sexual component. Some horse-ripping incidents have a sexual connotation.
Krafft-Ebing, same author who introduced zoophilia, used the term "zooerasty" for the paraphilia of exclusive sexual attraction to animals, but the term has fallen out of use.
The Kinsey reports controversially rated the percentage of people who had sexual interaction with animals at some point in their lives as 8% for men and 3.6% for women, and claimed it was 40–50 percent in people living near farms, but some later writers dispute the figures, because the study lacked a random sample, and because the prison population was included, causing sampling bias. Martin Duberman has written that it is difficult to get a random sample in sexual research, and that even when Paul Gebhard, Kinsey's research successor, removed prison samples from the figures, he found the figures were not significantly changed.
By 1974, the farm population in the USA had declined by 80 percent compared to 1940, reducing the opportunity to live with animals; Hunt's 1974 study suggests that the demographic changes led to a significant change in reported occurrence. Males in 1974 were 4.9% (1948: 8.3%), and in females in 1974 were 1.9% (1953: 3.6%). Miletski believes this is not a reduction in interest but a reduction in opportunity.
In one study, psychiatric patients were found to have a statistically-significant higher prevalence rate (55 percent) of reported bestiality, both actual sexual contacts (45 percent) and sexual fantasy (30 percent) than the control groups of medical in-patients (10 percent) and psychiatric staff (15 percent). Crépault and Couture (1980) reported that 5.3 percent of the men they surveyed have fantasized about sexual activity with an animal during heterosexual intercourse. A 1982 study suggested that 7.5 percent of 186 university students had interacted sexually with an animal.
Sexual fantasies about zoosexual acts can occur in people who do not wish to experience them in real life. Nancy Friday notes that zoophilia as a fantasy may provide an escape from cultural expectations, restrictions, and judgements in regard to sex. A frequency interest in and sexual excitement at watching animals mate is cited as an indicator of latent zoophilia by Massen (1994). Masters (1962) says brothel madames used to stage exhibitions of animals mating, as they found it aroused their clientele, and that it can encourage their clients to engage in bestiality.
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In many jurisdictions, all forms of zoosexual acts are prohibited; others outlaw only the mistreatment of animals, without specific mention of sexual activity. In some countries, such as Denmark, bestiality is not outlawed. It is currently illegal in Canada, Netherlands, most of the United States, Australia (except for the ACT), and New Zealand. In the UK, only penetrative acts are illegal. Countries such as Belgium, Germany, and Russia are somewhere in between: they permit sexual activity with animals, but prohibit the promotion of animal-oriented pornography.
Laws on zoosexuality are often triggered by specific incidents. While some laws are very specific, others employ vague terms such as "sodomy" or "bestiality," which lack legal precision and leave it unclear exactly which acts are covered. In the past, some bestiality laws may have been made in the belief that sex with an animal could result in monstrous offspring, as well as offending the community. Current anti-cruelty laws focus more specifically on animal welfare. Notable legal views include Sweden, where a 2005 report by the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency for the government expressed concern over the increase in reports of horse-ripping incidents. The agency believed current animal cruelty legislation was not sufficient in protecting animals from abuse and needed updating, but concluded that on balance it was not appropriate to call for a ban. In New Zealand, the 1989 Crimes Bill considered abolishing bestiality as a criminal offense, and instead viewing it as a mental health issue, but they did not, and people can still be prosecuted for it.
Some countries once had laws against single males living with female animals, such as Alpacas. Copulating with a female alpaca is still specifically against the law in Peru.
Infections that are transmitted from animals to humans are called zoonoses. Some zoonoses may be transferred through casual contact, but others are much more readily transferred by activities that expose humans to the semen, vaginal fluids, urine, saliva, feces and blood of animals. Examples of zoonoses are Brucellosis, Q fever, leptospirosis, and toxocariasis. Therefore sexual activity with animals is, in some instances, a high risk activity. Allergic reactions to animal semen may occur, including anaphylaxis. Bites and other trauma from penetration or trampling may occur.
The love of animals is not necessarily sexual in nature. In psychology and sociology the word "zoophilia" is sometimes used without sexual implications. Being fond of animals in general or pets in particular is accepted in Western society, and although sometimes ridiculed, it is usually respected or tolerated. However, the word zoophilia is usually used to mean a sexual preference towards animals which is acted upon, a paraphilia, and is not socially accepted, unlike being fond of animals without any sexual or romantic intent. People who identify as zoophiles may feel their love for animals is romantic rather than purely sexual, and say this makes them different from those committing entirely sexually motivated acts of bestiality. They may not act on their sexual attraction to animals.
Zoophiles are often confused with furries or therians (or "weres"), that is, people with an interest in anthropomorphism, or people who believe they share some kind of inner connection with animals (spiritual, emotional or otherwise). While the membership of all three groups probably overlap in part, it is untrue to say that all furs or therians have a sexual interest in animals (subconscious or otherwise). Some furs enjoy erotic anthropomorphic art, and also enjoy the companionship of animals, but have no wish to extend their interest beyond an affinity or emotional bond to actual sexual activity. The size of this group is not known, but zoophiles are in a minority in the furry fandom and they may be condemned there, and may be considered as practicing cruelty to animals. Expressions of fur fetishism and fursuiting are usually considered a form of costuming, rather than an expression of zoosexual interest and are usually legal. However, some furries may be more accepting of zoophiles.
Finally, zoophilia is not related to sexual puppy or pony play (also known as "Petplay") or animal transformation fantasies and roleplays, where one person may act like a dog, pony, horse, or other animal, while a sexual partner acts as a rider, trainer, caretaker, or breeding partner. These activities are sexual roleplays whose principal theme is the voluntary or involuntary reduction or transformation of a human being to animal status, and focus on the altered mind-space created. They have no implicit connection to, nor motive in common with zoophilia. Similar views are given on the disclaimers to other animal roleplay sites. They are instead more usually associated with BDSM.
Whether there is such a thing as a "zoophile community" or monolithic subculture is a controversial question. Whether or not it should be construed as a "community", the following outline is a rough description of the social world of zoophiles as it has existed to date.
An online survey which had recruited participants over the internet concluded that prior to the arrival of widespread computer networking, most zoophiles would not have known others, and for the most part engaged secretly, or told only trusted friends, family or partners. The internet and its predecessors made people able to search for topics and information in areas which were not otherwise easily accessible and to talk with relative safety and anonymity. Because of the diary-like intimacy of blogs and the anonymity, zoophiles had the ideal opportunity in which to come out and express their sexuality. As with many other alternate lifestyles, broader networks began forming in the 1980s when networked social groups became more common at home and elsewhere. Such developments in general were already described by Markoff in 1990; computers meant people thousands of miles apart could feel they had the intimacy of being in a small village together The popular newsgroup alt.sex.bestiality said to be in the top 1%" of newsgroup interest, ie 50 out of around 5000, reputedly started in humor along with personal bulletin boards and talkers, chief among them Sleepy's multiple worlds, Lintilla, and Planes of Existence were among the first group media of this kind in the late 1980s and early 1990s, rapidly drawing together zoophiles, some of whom also created personal and social websites and forums. By around 1992–1994 it became accurate to say that a wide social net had evolved. This was initially centered around the above newsgroup which during the six years following 1990 had matured into a discussion and support group. The newsgroup included information about health issues, laws governing zoophilia, bibliography, and community events.
Weinberg and Williams observe that the internet can socially integrate an incredibly large number of people. In Kinsey’s day contacts between animal lovers were more localized and limited to male compatriots in a particular rural community. Further, while Kinsey’s farm boys might have been part of a rural culture in which sex with animals was a part, the sex itself did not define the community. The zoophile community is not particularly large compared to other subcultures which make use of the internet, so Weinberg and Williams felt its aims and beliefs would change little as it grows. Unlike what Ross et al. (2000) suggested about gay men, that those particularly active on the internet may not be aware of a wider subculture, as there is not much of a wider subculture, Weinberg and Williams felt the virtual group would lead the development of the subculture. There also exist websites which aim to provide support and social assistance to zoophiles (including resources to help and rescue abused or mistreated animals), but these are not usually publicized. Such work is often undertaken as needed by individuals and friends, within social networks, and by word of mouth. One notable early attempt at creating a zoophile support structure focussed on social and psychological support was the newsgroup soc.support.zoophilia which was proposed in 1994 but narrowly failed to meet the 2/3 majority needed to be created. The German support group "Interessengemeinschaft Zoophiler Menschen ("zoophile interest group") was a support group.
Zoophilia has been partly discussed by several sciences: Psychology (the study of the human mind), sexology (a relatively new discipline primarily studying human sexuality), ethology (the study of animal behavior), and anthrozoology (the study of human-animal interactions and bonds).
The nature of animal minds, animal mental processes and structures, and animal self-awareness, perception, emotion in animals, and "map of the world", are studied within animal cognition and also explored within various specialized branches of neuroscience such as neuroethology.
Zoophilia may also be covered to some degree by other (non-science) fields such as ethics, philosophy, law, animal rights and animal welfare. It may also be touched upon by sociology which looks both at zoosadism in examining patterns and issues related to sexual abuse and at non-sexual zoophilia in examining the role of animals as emotional support and companionship in human lives, and may fall within the scope of psychiatry if it becomes necessary to consider its significance in a clinical context, or criminology as in most countries it is a crime, and it can be a precursor of other sexual crimes.
The established view in the field of psychology is that zoophilia is a mental disorder. DSM-III-R (APA, 1987) stated that sexual contact with animals is almost never a clinically significant problem by itself. It may reflect childhood experimentation or lack of other avenues of sexual expression. Exclusive desire for animals rather than humans is considered a rare paraphilia, and sufferers often have other paraphilias with which they present. Zoophiles will not usually seek help for their condition, and so do not come to the attention of psychiatrists for zoophilia itself. It was placed in the classification "paraphilias not otherwise specified." in the DSM-III and IIII. The World Health Organization takes the same position, listing a sexual preference for animals in its ICD-10 as "other disorder of sexual preference".
The DSM-IV (TR) (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association) requires that the individual does not receive the diagnosis of zoophilia, as with most other paraphilias, unless it is accompanied by distress or interference with normal functioning on the part of the individual.
The first detailed studies of zoophilia date from prior to 1910. Peer reviewed research into zoophilia in its own right started around 1960. However, a number of the most oft-quoted studies, such as Miletski, were not published in peer-reviewed journals. There have been several significant modern books, from Masters (1962) to Beetz (2002), but each of them has drawn and agreed on several broad conclusions:
More recently, research has engaged three further directions - the speculation that at least some animals seem to enjoy a zoosexual relationship assuming sadism is not present, and can form an affectionate bond. Similar findings are also reported by Kinsey (cited by Masters), and others earlier in history. Miletski (1999) notes that information on sex with animals on the internet is often very emphatic as to what the zoophile believes gives pleasure and how to identify what is perceived as consent beforehand. Some researchers are seeking to ascertain whether zoosexuality is closer to a sexual orientation than a sexual fetish, and to assimilate scientific research on emotion in animals and their ability to choose pleasure, as part of their beliefs about zoophilia. For instance, Jonathan Balcombe says animals do things for pleasure. But he himself says pet owners will be unimpressed by this statement, as this is not news to them. Jonathan Balcombe does not discuss or endorse zoophilia himself.
Beetz described the phenomenon of zoophilia/bestiality as being somewhere between crime, paraphilia and love, although she says that most research has been based on criminological reports, so the cases have frequently involved violence and psychiatric illness. She says only a few recent studies have taken data from volunteers in the community. As with all volunteer surveys and sexual ones in particular, these studies have a potential for self-selection bias.
Several organized religions take a critical or sometimes condemnatory view of zoophilia or zoosexual activity, with some variation and exceptions.
Passages in Leviticus 18 (Lev 18:23: "And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it, neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it: it is a perversion." RSV) and 20:15-16 ("If a man lies with a beast, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the beast. If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them." RSV) are cited by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians as categorical denunciation of bestiality. In Part II of his Summa Theologica, medieval philosopher Thomas Aquinas ranked various "unnatural vices" (sex acts resulting in "venereal pleasure" rather than procreation) by degrees of sinfulness, concluding that "the most grievous is the sin of bestiality." Some Christian theologians extend Matthew's view that even having thoughts of adultery is sinful to imply that thoughts of committing bestial acts are likewise sinful. In Judaism and Islam, however, having desirous sexual thoughts is not considered a major sin. In Judaism, it is subsumed within the category of Avon, as a failing of emotional control.
Views of zoophilia's seriousness in Islam seem to cover a wide spectrum. This may be because it is not explicitly mentioned or prohibited in the Qur'an, or because sex and sexuality were not treated as taboo in Muslim society to the same degree as in Christianity. Some sources claim that sex with animals is abhorrent. The majority view holds it in deep condemnation as Islamic Law is based upon the Qur'an and the Sunnah or the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad. A number of Hadith have stipulated the death penalty for individuals involved in acts of bestiality, a stance similar to the one adopted in the Judaic traditions and in the Old Testament:
Whoever comes unto an animal, kill him and kill it with him. Narrator: Abu Huraira and Ibn Abbas. Reference: Sahih Al-Jami'a, page or number: 5938.
A book "Tahrirolvasyleh", cited on the Internet, which quotes the Shia Ayatollah Khomeini approving of sex with animals under certain conditions, is unconfirmed and possibly a forgery. It is however contested whether such a fourth volume of Tahrirolvasyleh ever in fact existed (see Tahrirolvasyleh). No evidence of verified translations or cited references seems to be found in the hands of independent (Western) or other notable Islamic scholars and the main sources seem to be anti-Islamic in nature. Though the book Tahrir-ul-Vasyleh does exist, there is widespread suspicion concerning the existence and authenticity of such a "fourth book".
There are a few unsubstantiated references in Hindu scriptures to religious figures engaging in symbolic sexual activity with animals such as explicit depictions of people having sex with animals included amongst the thousands of sculptures of "Life events" on the exterior of the temple complex at Khajuraho. The depictions are largely symbolic depictions of the sexualization of some animals (such as the horse being a symbol of masculinity) and are not meant to be taken literally Orthodox Hindu doctrine holds that sex should be restricted to married couples, thereby forbidding zoosexual acts. A greater punishment is attached to sexual relations with a sacred cow than with other animals.
Buddhism addresses sexual conduct primarily in terms of what brings harm to oneself or to others, and the admonition against sexual misconduct is generally interpreted in modern times to prohibit zoosexual acts, as well as pederasty, adultery, rape, or prostitution. Various sexual activities, including those with animals, are expressly forbidden for Buddhist monks and nuns, who are expected to be celibate.
The phenomenon of sexual intercourse with animals is not new. Instances of this behavior have been found in the Bible. In a cave painting from at least 8000 BC in the Northern Italian Val Camonica a man is shown about to penetrate an animal. Raymond Christinger interprets that as a show of power of a tribal chief, and so we do not know if this practice was then more acceptable, and if the scene depicted was usual or unusual or whether it was symbolic or imaginary. The Cambridge Illustrated History of Prehistoric Art says the scene may be humorous, as the penetrating man seems to be waving cheerfully with his hand at the same time. Potters seem to have spent time depicting the practice, but this may be because they found the idea amusing. Dr "Jacobus X", said to be a nom-de-plume for a French author, said this was clearly "before any known taboos against sex with animals existed." Marc Epprecht states that authors such as Jacobus X do not deserve respect because their methodology is based on hearsay, and was designed for voyeuristic titilation of the reader. Masters said that since pre-historic man is prehistoric it goes without saying that we know little of his sexual behaviour, depictions in cave paintings may only show the artist's subjective preoccupations or thoughts.
Masters feels that in antiquity bestiality was widespread, and believed it was often incorporated into religious ritual. He believes it to have taken place in ancient Egypt, claiming that the zoomorphic forms of Ancient Egyptian gods ensures that bestiality would have been part of their rites. There is no evidence that the presence of gods with zoomorphic attributes ensures this in itself. However, Pindar, Herodotus, and Plutarch claimed the Egyptians engaged in ritual congress with goats. Such claims about other cultures do not necessarily reflect anything about which the author had evidence, but be a form of propaganda or xenophobia, similar to blood libel.
Bestiality was accepted in some cultures indigenously, such as North America and the Middle East. Several cultures built temples (Khajuraho, India) or other structures (Sagaholm, barrow, Sweden) with zoosexual carvings on the exterior, however at Khajuraho these depictions are not on the interior, perhaps depicting that these are things that belong to the profane world rather than the spiritual world, and thus are to be left outside.
In the West the most explicit records of sex involving humans and animals activity are associated with reports of the murderous sadism, torture and rape of the Roman games and circus, in which some authors estimate that several hundreds of thousands died. Masters believes beasts were specially trained to copulate with women: if the girls or women were unwilling then the animal would attempt rape. A surprising range of creatures was used for such purposes, and taught how to copulate vaginally or anally. Representations of scenes from the sexual lives of the gods, such as Pasiphaë and the Bull, were highly popular, often causing extreme suffering, injury or death. On occasion, the more ferocious beasts were permitted to kill and (if desired) devour their victims afterwards.
In the Church-oriented culture of the Middle Ages zoosexual activity was met with execution, typically burning, and death to the animals involved either the same way or by hanging, as "both a violation of Biblical edicts and a degradation of man as a spiritual being rather than one that is purely animal and carnal. Some witches were accused of having congress with the devil in the form of an animal. As with all accusations and confessions extracted under torture in the witch trials in Early Modern Europe, their validity cannot be ascertained.
In the 18th century the Age of Enlightenment took much that had been under the field of religion, such as sexual behavior, and brought it under the field of science. Views in this period were typically that zoophilia was a very rare medical illness, sexual pathology, sign of degeneracy or lower level of humanity to be found in "primitive" (ie non-Western or tribal) cultures, or crime against nature. These views persisted until the 1950s, when researchers such as Kinsey followed by R.E.L. Masters began researching sexuality and sexually fringe topics (including zoophilia) on their own terms. However they are still not widely accepted in the developed world by the majority of the public, partly because they are illegal, and because they are a taboo subject.
Because of its controversial nature, different countries vary in they treat discussion of bestiality. Often sexual matters are the subject of legal or regulatory requirement. For example, in 2005 the UK broadcasting regulator (OFCOM) updated its code stating that freedom of expression is at the heart of any democratic state. Adult audiences should be informed as to what they will be viewing or hearing, and the young, who cannot make a fully informed choice for themselves, should be protected. Hence a watershed and other precautions were set up for explicit sexual material, to protect young people. Zoosexual activity and other sexual matters may be discussed, but only in an appropriate context and manner.
Omaha the Cat Dancer, a furry comic book, was subjected to a raid by Toronto police for pornographic depiction of bestiality (as noted, furry art is not usually considered "bestiality"), but in New Zealand although it was sent for assessment by the (now defunct) Indecent Publications Tribunal, they praised it for its mature depiction of relationships and sexuality. The IPT was replaced after the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act in 1993, replaced with bodies designed to allow both more debate and increased consistency, and possession and supply of material that it is decided are objectionable was made a criminal offence.
References to bestiality are not uncommon in some media, usually comedy, especially cartoon series such as Family Guy (episode: "Screwed the Pooch") and South Park (Recurring themes), satirical comedy such as Borat, and films (especially shock exploitation films), although a few broadcasters such as Howard Stern (who joked about bestiality dial-a-date on NBC) and Tom Binns (whose Xfm London Breakfast Show resulted on one occasion in a live discussion about the ethics of zoosexual pornographic movies at peak child listening time) have been reprimanded by their stations for doing so. Mention in the media is often comical in nature. In literature, American novelist Kurt Vonnegut refers to a photo of a woman attempting sexual intercourse with a Shetland Pony in The Sirens of Titan, Slaughterhouse Five, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater. Philip K. Dick also refers to a photo of a woman copulating with a Shetland Pony in Flow My Tears The Policeman Said. John Irving's novel The Cider House Rules repeatedly mentions a pornographic photograph depicting oral sex on a pony. In Clerks II Randal orders a donkey show as a going away present for his best friend Dante, in which it is referred to as "interspecies erotica" by the male performer.
Pornography involving sex with animals is widely illegal, even in most countries where the act itself is not explicitly outlawed. In the United States, zoosexual pornography (in common with other pornography) would be considered obscene if it did not meet the standards of the Miller Test and therefore is not openly sold, mailed, distributed or imported across state boundaries or within states which prohibit it. Under U.S. law, 'distribution' includes transmission across the internet. Production and mere possession appear to be legal, however. U.S. prohibitions on distribution of sexual or obscene materials are as of 2005 in some doubt, having been ruled unconstitutional in United States v. Extreme Associates (a judgement which was overturned on appeal, December 2005). Similar restrictions apply in Germany (see above). In New Zealand the possession, making or distribution of material promoting bestiality is illegal.
The potential use of media for pornographic movies was seen from the start of the era of silent film. Polissons and Galipettes (re-released 2002 as "The Good Old Naughty Days") is a collection of early French silent films for brothel use, including some animal pornography, dating from around 1905 – 1930.
Material featuring sex with animals is widely available on the Internet, due to their ease of production, and because production and sale is legal in countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark. Prior to the advent of mass-market full-color glossy magazines such as Playboy, so-called Tijuana Bibles were a form of pornographic tract popular in America, sold as anonymous underground publications typically comprising a small number of stapled comic-strips representing characters and celebrities. The promotion of "stars" began with the Danish Bodil Joensen, in the period of 1969–72, along with other porn actors such as the Americans Linda Lovelace (Dogarama, 1969), Chessie Moore (multiple films, c. 1994), Kerri Downs (three films, 1998) and Calina Lynx (aka Kelly G'raffe) (two films, 1998). Another early film to attain great infamy was "Animal Farm", smuggled into Great Britain around 1980 without details as to makers or provenance. The film was later traced to a crude juxtaposition of smuggled cuts from many of Bodil Joensen's 1970s Danish movies. Into the 1980s the Dutch took the lead, creating figures like "Wilma" and the "Dutch Sisters". In 1980s, "bestiality" was featured in Italian adult films with actresses like Denise Dior, Francesca Ray, and Marina Hedman, manifested early in the softcore flick Bestialità in 1976.
Today, in Hungary, where production faces no legal limitations, zoosexual materials have become a substantial industry that produces numerous films and magazines, particularly for Dutch companies such as Topscore and Book & Film International, and the genre has stars such as "Hector", a Great Dane starring in several films. Many Hungarian mainstream performers also appeared anonymously in animal pornography in their early careers. For example, Suzy Spark.
In Japan, animal pornography is used to bypass censorship laws, often featuring Japanese and Russian female models performing fellatio on animals, because oral penetration of a non-human penis is not in the scope of Japanese mosaic censor. Sakura Sakurada is an AV idol known to have appeared in animal pornography, specifically in the AV The Dog Game in 2006. While primarily underground, there are a number of animal pornography actresses who specialize in bestiality movies. A box-office success of the 1980s, 24 Horas de Sexo Explícito featured zoophilia.
The UK Government has announced plans to criminalise possession of images depicting sex with animals (see extreme pornography), which would include fake images and simulated acts, as well as images depicting sex with dead animals, where no crime has taken place in the production.
Platonic love for animals is usually viewed positively, but most people express concern or disapproval of sexual interest, sometimes very strongly. Criticisms come from a variety of sources, including religious, moral, ethical, psychological, medical and social arguments.
The criticisms may include the wisdom of repugnance; that many people instinctively feel repulsed by the idea, and that this may be a sign the idea is not a good one. The belief that bestiality is unnatural may be subject to the naturalistic fallacy.
Zoosexuality is seen by authorities as profoundly disturbed behaviour, as indicated by the UK Home Office review on sexual offences, 2002) Beetz also states there is significant evidence that violent zoosadistic approaches to sex with animals, often characterized by "binding, roping, threatening, beating", are linked to "violent behavior" and could be a "rehearsal for human-directed violence", however she says that the degree of violence used has not been asked. It is possible animals are traumatized even by a non-violent, sexual approach from a human. But if the approach is conducted with kindness and care and stopped if the animal shows signs of discomfort, as zoophiles describe ideal sexual interactions with animals, Beetz believes there is no need for trauma to result.
Some people believe that zoophilia degrades people, or is forbidden by God. An argument from human dignity is given by Wesley J. Smith, a senior fellow and Intelligent Design proponent at the Center for Science and Culture of the conservative Christian Discovery Institute: - "such behavior is profoundly degrading and utterly subversive to the crucial understanding that human beings are unique, special, and of the highest moral worth in the known universe--a concept known as 'human exceptionalism' ... one of the reasons bestiality is condemned through law is that such degrading conduct unacceptably subverts standards of basic human dignity and is an affront to humankind's inestimable importance and intrinsic moral worth." People's beliefs about religion and human dignity vary; many individuals do not consider them relevant. But zoophilia can also damage the animals', or their owners', reputations, and have them ostracised or the animals put down. In Africa at one point bestiality was rumoured to spread AIDS, and people avoided the meat or milk of such animals, leading to their being destroyed.
Defenders of zoophilia assert that some of these arguments rely on double standards, such as expecting informed consent from animals for sexual activity (and not accepting consent given in their own manner), but not for surgical procedures including aesthetic mutilation and castration, potentially lethal experimentation and other hazardous activities, euthanasia, and slaughter. Likewise, if animals cannot give consent, then it follows that they must not have sex with each other (amongst themselves). [Also see: speciesism] Critics of this reasoning state that animals can communicate internally (hence consent) within their own species, but cannot communicate cross-species. Others state that animal communication is clear and unambiguous cross-species as well.
In discussing arguments for and against zoosexual activity, the "British Journal of Sexual Medicine" commented over 30 years ago, "We are all supposed to condemn bestiality, though only rarely are sound medical or psychological factors advanced." (Jan/Feb 1974, p. 43) Zoophiles believe people's views appear to depend significantly upon the nature of their interest and nature of exposure to the subject. However people may feel there is a limit to what should be accepted—e.g., zoophiles who practice "fence-hopping" (sex with animals which are other people's pets) should be and are prosecuted. Ethologists, who study and understand animal behaviour and body language, have documented animal sexual advances to human beings and other species, and tend to be matter-of-fact about animal sexuality and animal approaches to humans. Because the majority opinion is condemnatory, many individuals may be more accepting in private than they make clear to the public. Regardless, there is a general societal view which regards zoophilia with either suspicion or outright opposition.
One of the primary critiques of zoophilia is that zoosexual activity is harmful to animals and necessarily abusive, because animals are unable to give or withhold consent. Critics also point to examples in which animals were clearly harmed, having been tied up, assaulted, or injured. Defenders of zoophilia argue that physically injuring animals is neither typical of nor commonplace within zoophilia, and that just as sexual activity with humans can be both harmful and not, so can sexual activity with animals.
Similar to arguments against sex with human minors, The Humane Society of the United States has said that as animals don't have the same capacity for thinking as humans, they are unable to give full consent. In his 1993 article, Dr. Frank Ascione stated that "bestiality may be considered abusive even in cases when physical harm to an animal does not occur (this is similar to the case of adult sexual activity with a child where consent is presumed to be impossible)." This is because animals are unable to be fully informed, communicate consent, or to speak out about their abuse. In a 1997 article, Piers Beirne, Professor of Criminology at the University of Southern Maine, points out that 'for genuine consent to sexual relations to be present...both participants must be conscious, fully informed and positive in their desires.' Miltski believes that "Animals are capable of sexual consent - and even initiation - in their own way." It is not an uncommon practice for dogs to attempt to copulate with ("hump") the legs of people of both genders. Rosenberger (1968) emphasizes that as far as cunnilingus is concerned, dogs require no training, and even Dekkers (1994) and Menninger (1951) admit that sometimes animals take the initiative and do so impulsively. Those supporting zoophilia feel animals sometimes even seem to enjoy the sexual attention or to initiate it. Animal owners normally know what their own pets like or do not like. Most people can tell if an animal does not like how it is being petted, because it will move away. An animal that is liking being petted pushes against the hand, and seems to enjoy it. To those defending zoopilia this is seen as a way in which animals give consent, or the fact that a dog might wag its tail. That an animal might act instinctively rather than with thought does not mean there is not enjoyment, will or the ability to learn via Pavlovian conditioning, but a Pavlovian response may not be full consent.
Utilitarian philosopher and animal liberation author Peter Singer argues that zoophilia is not unethical so long as it involves no harm or cruelty to the animal, a position countered by fellow philosopher Tom Regan, who writes that the same argument could be used to justify having sex with children. Regan writes that Singer's position is a consequence of his adapting a utilitarian, or consequentialist, approach to animal rights, rather than a strictly rights-based one, and argues that the rights-based position distances itself from non-consensual sex. The Humane Society of the United States takes the position that all sexual molestation of animals by humans is abusive, whether it involves physical injury or not.
Commenting on Singer's article "Heavy Petting," in which he argues that zoosexual activity need not be abusive, and that relationships could form which were mutually enjoyed, Ingrid Newkirk, president of the animal rights group PETA, argued that, "If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it's great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong. If it isn't exploitation and abuse, [then] it may not be wrong." A few years later, Newkirk clarified in a letter to the Canada Free Press that she was strongly opposed to any exploitation of, and all sexual activity with, animals.
Such relationships may also be taking advantage of animals' innate social structure which drives them to please the leader of a pack. Zoophiles believe the social roles between species are more flexible than that. Some people believe that zoosexual relations are simply for those unable or unwilling to find human partners. Research shows the majority of zoophiles appear to have human partners and relationships; many others simply do not have a sexual attraction to humans. Some zoophiles have an attraction to species which are relatively inaccessible, such as dolphins; tending to oppose the view that they are simply seeking sexual fulfillment. However farm animals or pets - with which the zoophile may have come into contact as a child - are the most common animals chosen.
Jacob M. Appel has also advocated for the decriminalization of bestialty, arguing that lack of consent is not a meaningful concept when discussing human-animal sex. He has written that society does "not describe owning a pet dog as kidnapping, even when the canine is restricted to the inside of a home, although confining a human being in the same manner would clearly be unethical." According to Appel, such relations "may well be neutral or even pleasurable for the animals concerned," and they are primarily prohibited because of social taboos, not for any defensible philosophical or moral reason.
Other ethical concerns regarding zoophilia are the belief that humans are guardians in charge of their animals, so a sexual relationship is a betrayal of the trust earned by this duty of care. Zoophiles say that taking responsibility for their pet's sexual drive is more accepting of the animal than neutering, which is done more for human convenience than animal welfare.
Those arguing against zoophilia may say that animals mate instinctively to produce offspring, only having sex for reproduction, hence they are deceived when these activities are performed. This may be disputed because of research by the Bronx Zoo which suggests that some apes copulate for entertainment. The claim assumes that sex cannot both be biologically imperative and pleasurable. Some animals such as bonobo apes and dolphins do sometimes appear to have sex solely for pleasure. Animals of many species also masturbate, even if other sexual partners are accessible. Male animals can achieve orgasm, and Beetz claims that female animals of some species can too. However, there is no evidence for this in most female animals. Animals give mating signals to others of their species, and zoophiles feel they demonstrate appreciation for it in their body language, or initiate it. Animal owners normally know what their own pets like or do not like. Beetz believes that as long as there is no sexuality involved, people most probably would agree that they know when a pet does or does not like how it is being stroked, and to Beetz this is an indication that an animal can also give consent to sex without being forced.