Antarctic Seals Are Sexually Abusing King Penguins – Extreme Cross-Species Abuse In Animals Too?

Wildlife researchers have repeatedly observed Antarctic fur seals trying to engage in sexual activity. What’s concerning about the otherwise healthy act is that these seals aren’t trying to copulate with others of their own species, but targeting penguins instead to satiate their carnal desires.

Homo sapiens (read: humans) have been well documented to have attempted cross-species copulation. These people with such fetishes have been booked for their lewd acts on countless occasions, but it is a widely known albeit illegal act. On the other hand, inter-species sexual activity is quite rare. Scientists witnessing the event were surprised when they captured these acts on camera, reported BBC News.

However, this is not the first time a fur seal has been caught in this dastardly act. Way back in 2006, a fur seal was documented having attempted to indulge in intercourse with a king penguin on Marion Island, a sub-Antarctic island that is home to both species. But the scientists had dismissed the event speculating that the abnormal behavior may have been because the seal was a sexually frustrated or simply inexperienced. They even wondered if the seal was trying to act aggressive while protecting its territory, or he might have been playing with the seal and the act turned rather intimate.

However, the newly-recorded incidents are neither isolated nor rare. They have been published in the study “Multiple occurrences of king penguin (Aptenodytes patagonicus) sexual harassment by Antarctic fur seals (Arctocephalus gazella).”

Still-surprised Nico de Bruyn, of the Mammal Research Institute at the University of Pretoria, South Africa said, “Honestly I did not expect that follow up sightings of a similar nature to that 2006 one would ever be made again, and certainly not on multiple occasions.”

These scientists routinely monitor wildlife in these harsh regions and islands. They attempt to document rare and unusual behavior. Needless to say, a fur seal trying to have sex with a king penguin shoots right at the top of these categories.

The Seals 'Mount' The Poor Penguins For A Long Time
The Seals ‘Mount’ The Poor Penguins For A Long Time

These incidents, thought appearing bizarre and unnatural, have been documented on multiple occasions. In fact, a research team led by William A. Haddad and de Bruyn has spotted young male seals sexually coercing healthy-looking penguins. Interestingly, the team couldn’t determine the gender of the penguins and hence the debate whether the seals were homosexuals or not, still rages on.

The scientists have even been able to identify a special pattern, revealed Haddad.

“Each time a seal chased, captured and mounted the penguin. The seal then attempted copulation several times, lasting about five minutes each, with periods of rest in between.”

What’s equally distressing about such events is these seals often hunt and kill these penguins for food.

[Image Credit | William A. Haddad, Polar Biology / Springer]

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