According to Polish researchers, a pair of Brown bears at a zoo in Croatia have been observed engaging in oral sex, and frequently at that.
The bears, which were both orphaned as cubs after being born in the wild, were observed between 2008 and 2013 by the researchers, who say the animals were seen repeatedly engaging in “vigorous penile sucking.” As the Huffington Post reports, the two male bears were observed engaging in oral sex 28 times over the course of just 116 hours of observations. That means that, on average, one act of oral sex happened every four hours, and lasted anywhere from one to four minutes.
Researchers are baffled about the bears’ behavior. While bears have been observed engaging in similar behavior in the past, it was generally seen in animals that were kept in poor living conditions. Oral sex has generally been considered “abnormal” behavior for the species, although it has been documented in other mammals, such as primates, goats, sheep, cheetahs, and even hyenas. The researchers from the Polish Academy of Sciences in Krakow, also observed in their report that the Croatian bears appeared to be “kept in proper conditions.”
Buzzfeed reports that over the course of the six year study, the two bears always took the same role. One of the bears was always the provider, while the other bear was always the recipient of the sex act. The provider was the bear that always initiated the encounters, and the pair apparently never showed any sexual interest in other bears kept at the zoo. The researchers suggested that the behavior may be caused by the provider bear’s “prematurely curtailed maternal suckling.” They point out that orphaned bears often suckle on their sibling’s body parts, such as paws or ears, in an attempt to replicate the juvenile feeding behavior. In the case of the Croatian bears, which are unrelated, they assert that the provider bear “may have found a substitute for teat‐sucking that also resulted in a let‐down of substitute ‘milk.'”
Surprisingly, this isn’t the only time that aberrant sexual behavior in bears has made the news. Last fall, The Inquisitr reported that the discovery of bear penis fossils were helping scientists shed light on the mating habits of a long extinct species of bear.
As for the Croatian bears, while the reasons for their behavior and specific roles remain a mystery, the paper on the bear’s oral sex habits appears in this month’s edition of the journal Zoo Biology.