‘Gay Pride’ Displayed In Wild Lions: Can Animals Have Homosexual Tendencies?

Two male lions exhibited mating behavior with each other while ignoring a pregnant female in the group, a photographer in Africa’s Botswana National Park said.

The lions carried on for days, according to a report in DailyMail.

Nicole Cambré, a Brussels attorney, took pictures while the two adult males rolled around and tried to breed each other last month.

“I saw those two male lions mating during a safari in the Lagoon area of the Kwando concession in Botswana. According to our guide they had only started their behavior that same week.”

“These intruder males had pushed out the resident males earlier in the year and the other female lions had headed into the Mopani woodlands; an area difficult to access with a safari vehicle.”

Though Cambré makes her living as a lawyer, her passion is in photography. One of her images won the nature category of the 2014 National Geographic photo contest.

“Only one lioness was seen in the centre of the concession where the male lions were and the lions showed no interest in the lioness leading to the assumption that she may have been pregnant.”

“With the light just around sunset, it gave some spectacular images.”

“One of the lions was wearing a collar and our guide thought that they may have crossed from Namibia.”

“It is the first time I have seen homosexual behavior in lions, but when reading about it upon my return, it is not that uncommon.”

According to BBC Earth, it is indeed common for male lions as part of a social group to exhibit mating behavior. In fact, many species of animals have been involved in such acts. But is this true homosexuality? What is really going on here?

“Animals have been observed engaging in same-sex matings for decades. But for most of that time, the documented cases were largely seen as anomalies or curiosities.”

“The turning point was Bruce Bagemihl’s 1999 book Biological Exuberance, which outlined so many examples, from so many different species, that the topic moved to centre stage. Since then, scientists have studied these behaviors systematically.”

Homosexual behavior among animals, according to the article, “looks like a really bad idea.” It cites Darwin’s theory of evolution, which demands a strong drive to procreate.

If homosexuality is a gene, it would be unproductive, so shouldn’t it have been bred out?

Not necessarily, says BBC.

“For some animals, homosexual behaviour isn’t an occasional event – which we might put down to simple mistakes – but a regular thing.”

Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, has been studying macaques for over 20 years. The primates exhibit lustful behaviors, especially among the females, such as grinding and rubbing on each other. The females, he said, were “more creative” in their positions.

“So many females of the group are engaging in this behaviour and there are males sitting around twiddling their thumbs. There’s got to be a reason for this. There is no way the behavior can be evolutionarily irrelevant.”

In a 2006 study, Vasey’s group suggested that the females were simply seeking sexual pleasure and were using different movements to maximize the genital sensations.

“She can do so in a homosexual context just as easily as in a heterosexual context, so the behavior spills over.”

The article did not specify whether these macaques were living in captivity, so there may be boredom factors to consider. However, plenty of other animals exhibit homosexual behavior, from the fruit fly to the albatross to, well, the African lion.

Animals are “coming out” as more emotionally complex than the human mind has ever imagined. The days of considering them as merely survival robots are long over.

The facts beg the question: If homosexuality is inherent in some people, why not in animals too?

[Image via Eric Isselee/Shutterstock]