Researchers are finding that same-sex couplings are surprisingly widespread in the animal kingdom. The human pattern of bisexuality also appears in animals. In some cases, animals prefer same sex at one point in their lives, and change preference later. They may even change back and forth. In some cases, animals may seek sex with partners of either sex at random.
Why should I be aware of this?
- Unlike humans, most animals cannot be classified as gay or straight. An animal that engages in a same-sex mating does not necessarily shun heterosexual encounters. Rather many species seem to have ingrained homosexual tendencies that are a regular part of their society.
- Homosexuality among some species is found to be far more common in captivity than in the wild. Scientists say that captivity may bring out gay behaviors in part because of a scarcity of opposite-sex mates. The animals’ stress levels are also increased and homosexuality is a way of relieving the stress. Similar behaviour is founding humans in same sex settings such as prisons and the sports arena.
All about bisexual species
The study of homosexual activity in diverse species indicates the evolutionary origins of such behavior. Research has found that animals may engage in same-sex couplings to diffuse social tensions, to better protect their young or to maintain fecundity when opposite-sex partners are unavailable. Bisexuality is a natural state among animals, though, among humans the categories of gay and straight are socially constructed.
Early scientists considered homosexual acts among animals to be abnormal which they attempted to cure by castrating them or giving them lobotomies. In modern studies, which date back to the late nineteenth century, French entomologist Henri Gadeau de Kerville of the Society of Friends of Natural Sciences and the Museum of Rouen published a drawing of two male scarab beetles copulating. Then, during the first half of the 1900s, various investigators described homosexual behavior in baboons, garter snakes and gentoo penguins, among other species.
As peace-making move
Homosexual behaviour among animals is also seen as a way of making peace with would-be foes. In the Journal of Animal Behavior Gilbert Van Tassel Hamilton, a psychopathologist practicing in Montecito, Calif., observed that females frequently offered sex to the more dominant macaques of the same sex when she is threatened by another female. And homosexual alliances between mature and immature males take place as a defensive value for immature males, who are provided assistance defender in the event of an attack.
Male lions often band together with their brothers to lead the pride. To ensure loyalty, they strengthen the bonds by often having sex with each other.
Same-sex pair bonding in animals
Just as in humans, animals often form long-term same-sex relationships. This happens not only in species which go for heterosexual pair-bonds, but also among those who don’t. This is the case with bottlenose dolphins, which are not known to form heterosexual pair bonds, but which do in fact form homosexual pair bonds, including sex, and often lasting for life.
Similar bondings are found in animals like bison, gazelles, antelope, sage grouse and Guinean cocks-of-the-rock. It is also not uncommon for homosexual preference to form among members of such bachelor groups; when offered the opportunity to breed unencumbered with members of the opposite sex or the same sex, they choose the same sex.
In animals with a seasonal breeding pattern, homosexuality can even be seasonal. Male walruses, for example, often form homosexual pair bonds and have sex with each other outside of the breeding season, but will revert to a heterosexual pattern during the normal breeding season.
- Homosexuality and bisexuality are cultural concepts that animals don't care about. They have instincts but no idea of morality and what's right and wrong.
- In animals it is a fluid line between enjoying same-sex company and homosexual activity. And some animals clearly find same-sex pairs more agreeable.
- The tendency of swans to form lifelong pairs has made them a popular symbol of heterosexual romance but one in five pairs is actually of the same sex.
- A similar ratio is found among king penguins in zoos, although that is thought to drop to about one in 10 in the wild.
- Bisexual behaviour can also help a pride of lions. Being a male lion is very hard work because when a female is on heat she will demand sex up to 40 times a day, and there might be five or so in the pride. 
The most well-known animal which also engages in homosexual activities is the dwarf chimpanzee, one of humanity's closes relatives. The entire species is bisexual. Sex plays a conspicuous role in all their activities and takes the focus away from violence, which is the most typical method of solving conflicts among primates and many other animals.
- 1,500 animal species practice homosexuality
- Bisexual Species: Unorthodox Sex in the Animal Kingdom
- Animals' true nature will out