Same-sex behaviour has been reported in more than 1500 species and was observed by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. But traditional evolutionary theory can’t explain the purpose of being gay, or why it might be an advantage. So what are the animals up to?
This frank documentary shows pets and animals on farms in zoos, and in the wild, caught on camera indulging in same-sex behaviour.
A male dog persistently mounts another male dog, even when it’s presented with a female Labrador in season.
At Twycross Zoo, the bonobos – great apes with complex social bonds – have evolved to make love, not war, using same-sex behaviour to defuse tension. And in Japan, female macaques, which have very high libidos, form exclusively same-sex relationships, while rejecting attention from heterosexual mates.
Male lions caught in the act together in Kenya provoked international controversy and hilarity when a Kenyan politician claimed that they had learned their ‘unnatural’ behaviour from gay humans. The lions didn’t know that, in Kenya, homosexuality is punishable with up to 14 years in prison.
The programme meets a commercial sheep breeder who knows that some rams are exclusively homosexual, and no good to his business. Pioneering scientists reveal the latest thinking about what’s going on and explain that you can’t separate so-called ‘dominance’ behaviour from ‘pure’ sexual interactions with a reproductive purpose.
Bisexual behaviour is common across a wide range of species. And world-leading British scientists, who believe that they are close to identifying the combinations of genes that underlie homosexual behaviour, explain why there may indeed be evolutionary advantages to being gay.
My Gay Dog and Other Animals – Thursday at 9.00pm on Channel4.