The Hellabrunn Zoo in Munich is offering special tours on “Homosexuality in the Animal Kingdom” for the first time on the occasion of the Pride Week and the Christopher Street Days in Munich (July 13).
The tours are scheduled for the coming weekend each evening. Zoologists have reportedly observed and documented same-sex behavior in about 500 species.
“Naturally occurring sexual combinations between same-sex individuals occur in different animal species and prove that these practices are strongly rooted in nature,” explains Rasem Baban, director of Hellabrunn Zoo.
For many animals in the zoo, the guides can only exemplify which homosexual behavior is known for this species – for example, in the case of lions and elephants. However participants in the tour will be able to watch at least one gay couple with their own eyes. The gay Humboldt penguin couple have in previous years stolen eggs from heterosexual penguin couples and hatched them. This year, however, they have to use a stone.
Same-sex behaviors were observed in 500 animal species
Right at the beginning of the tour zoo guide Ilse Tutter makes it clear: “Sexuality, homosexuality, heterosexuality are personality traits, that’s human.” She speaks of homosexual behavior in relation to animals. Aristotle documented this more than 300 years before Christ.
Meanwhile, same-sex behaviors were observed in about 500 species according to the zoo. As a kind of rule of thumb, the biologist says: animals that live in groups, colonies or herds, showed more homosexual behavior than loners who only have sex at mating time.
More homosexual behavior has been observed in males, says Tutter. The findings are multi-faceted: With domesticated rams it is already known that about ten percent find it very terrible to mate with females. Elephant ladies, in turn, like to exchange kisses with their trunks and play with each others nipples.
Black swans even like to indulge in threesomes, Tutter continues. “Then two males look for a female, one mates and then the female is shooed away.” But this even has advantages for the preservation of the species: Two males bring more food, the breeding success is much greater.
Its similar with the penguins: For example, if two males adopt a neglected egg, that would be good for the entire colony.
Penguins love unconditionally, whether males or females
It is not uncommon for zoos to take on the subject of homosexuality: There were and are examples from the Nuremberg Zoo and the Tierpark Chemnitz. Just recently the London Zoo put a banner in front of the penguin enclosure with the inscription: “Some penguins are gay, get over it.”
At the same time experts find factual classification to be important. Penguin researcher Klemens Pütz, for example, writes in his book “Unverfrorene Freunde” (Unforrated Friends) that homosexual behavior is not so rare among penguins as with other birds: “If there is no partner of the opposite sex at mating time, then they just do it with each other. They basically train for the real mating.”
Perhaps, in the end, penguins are the better people: “Because they love, whom or what they have right now, unconditionally.”