Resource icon

Zoo Research and Data New insights into bestiality and zoophilia

New insights into bestiality and zoophilia
Andrea M. Beetz
Department of Veterinary Medicine, University of Cambridge, UK

Address for correspondence: Dr A. M. Beetz, Schillerstrasse 28a, 91054 Erlangen, Germany.
Ph: +4909131-4000 455; e-mail: andrea.m.beetz@gmx.de


Abstract

Sexual contact with animals, usually referred to as bestiality, occurs in many different forms and is practiced with different underlying motives. In particular zoophilia, where an emotional bond to the animal plays a key role besides the sexual aspect, has received more attention during the past few years. This article reports primarily on three recent studies—Beetz (2002), Miletski (2002), and Williams and Weinberg (2003)—in which the authors investigated bestiality and zoophilia among large samples of people, providing new insights into these phenomena. Their findings on the species involved in sexual contacts with humans, the practices engaged in, the development of sexual interest in animals, the personality of men practicing sex with animals, links with mental health problems, the differences between zoophilia and bestiality, and the role of the Internet are reported. Furthermore, the attitudes of philosophers and society towards the practice of bestiality are discussed.

********************​

In a time when sexuality is discussed openly in most Western societies, sexual contact with animals remains one of the last taboos and israrely addressed. If it is mentioned, the general population usually reacts with ridicule, disgust, moral outrage, and sometimes also indifference or voyeuristic curiosity, but rarely with informed comment and/or adesire for more knowledge about this phenomenon. Bestiality is the com-monly used term to refer to sexual contact with animals, although definitions vary and some do not include all sexual acts with animals: some only include penetration of or by the animal. Little information is available about its prevalence today. While several researchers have collected data on bestiality as one behavior among many others in the field of sexualabuse or interpersonal violence (see Beetz, pp. 145–169 in this issue ofAnthrozoös), only a few studies have involved exclusive investigations of bestiality, and even fewer have acquired a large sample size. In the present article, the findings of recent studies by Beetz (2002), Miletski (2002), and Williams and Weinberg (2003), utilizing large, voluntary samples of people admitting to engaging in sexual practices with animals, will be reported in more detail. Their data support the existence of another phenomenon closely related to bestiality -zoophilia- where the key feature, in addition to sexual interactions, is a strong emotional involvement with the animal.
Only during the last five years has there been a surge of scholarly interest in sexual contacts with animals, possibly due to the findings of recent research; practitioners and scientists in the mental health professions as well as animal protection, law, criminology, and anthrozoology have started to discuss bestiality and zoophilia in more detail. In this paper, I hope to promote further discussion by presenting a summary of the most recent research on sexual contacts with animals.
Firstly, an overview of the variety of forms of sexual contact with animals that occur and the different definitions of bestiality and zoophilia will be given. Secondly, a short description of the studies of Beetz (2002), Miletski (2002), and Williams and Weinberg (2003) will follow to serve as the primary source of information on the following aspects of sexual contacts with animals: the species involved in sexual contacts with humans, the sexual practices engaged in, the development of a sexual interest in animals, the personality of men practicing sex with animals, links with mental health problems, a comparison of zoophilia and bestiality, and the importance of the Internet. Thirdly, the views on bestiality taken by philosophers and society in general will be addressed. Finally, some conclusions about the relevance of bestiality and zoophilia to different professions and society will be drawn.

Types of Sexual Contact with Animals

In former times, bestiality and other forms of “deviant” sexual behavior such as homosexuality and anal intercourse were subsumed under the term“sodomy” (Stayton 1994). Today, this term is not used in relation to sexual contact with animals any more. Now, “zoophilia” is the term preferred by many of the people who engage in sex with animals, and they call themselves “zoophiles” or “zoos.” Zoophilia is also the term most often employed by clinicians. It was introduced into the field of sex research by Krafft-Ebingin 1894 (Schmidt 1969), who described several different forms of sexual contact with animals in his well-known work Psychopathia Sexualis. While he labeled all non-pathological sexual contact with animals as “bestiality,”cases that were like an animal fetishism were defined as “zoophilia erotica,”and pathological cases as “zooerasty.” In contrast to this, Masters’ (1962) definition of zooerasty focuses on a lack of emotional involvement in the sexual act with animals, which made it comparable to masturbation. Karpman (1954), however, addressed only “sexual excitement experiences with stroking or fondling of animals” (p. 15) as “zoophilia,” and used the terms “bestiality” and “zooerasty” when referring to any sexual act between humans and animals. Several other authors employed the term “zoophilia”to name an exclusive or predominant desire for sexual acts with animals (Masters 1966). For Money (1986), zoophilia represented “a paraphilia of the stigmatic/eligibilic type, in which sexuoerotic arousal and facilitation orattainment of orgasm are responsive to and dependent upon engaging in cross-species sexual activities...” (Money 1986, p. 273). It is important to mention, too, that sometimes a general love of animals without any sexual interest has been called zoophilia. And in the non-scientific literature, the term “Egyptian” can be found sometimes in reference to sexual practices with animals, in the same way that “French” is used to refer to oral practices, and “Greek” to homosexual contact (Bryant 1977).
In mental health, zoophilia is listed among the paraphilias. Its definition in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Diseases (DSM) states: “The act or fantasy of engaging in sexual activity with animals is repeatedly preferred or the exclusive method of achieving sexual excitement” (American Psychiatric Association <APA> 1980, p.270). The fourth edition, DSM-IV (APA 1994), named the following, more exact, criteria for paraphilias “...recurrent, intense sexually arousing fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviors generally involving 1) nonhuman objects, 2) the suffering or humiliation of oneself or one’s partner, or 3) children or other non consenting persons, that occur over a period of at least six months (Criterion A). ... The behavior, sexual urges, or fantasies cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning (Criterion B)” (APA 1994, p. 523). Also, legal consequences may be regarded as a clinically significant impairment. Thus, in states where bestiality is illegal, this criterion usually applies.
Other phenomena closely related to sexual contact with animals have been reported by several authors. A case of “zoomimic masochism”—the human abasement to an animal state, for example, playing an animal in asadomasochistic context—was described by Hirschfeld (1956). Stekel(1952), however, named the identification with an animal for the purpose of sexual performance, for example, playing the role of a dog or performing as a rooster in a costume, “zoanthropo-sexual infantilism.” Later,Bornemann (1990 cited in Rosenbauer 1997) defined the mimicking ofanimals in general as “zooanthropy,” and the mimicking of animals in amainly sexual context as “zoomimic.”
Money (1986) reported a highly specific form of zoophilia, “formicophilia.” In cases of formicophilia, sexual arousal and achievement of orgasm is caused by small creatures such as snails, frogs, insects, or ants“creeping, crawling, or nibbling the genitalia and perianal area, and the nipples” (Money 1986, p. 76). Further, Money (1986) claimed bestiality to be an animal fetishism.
McNally and Lukach (1991) described a case of “zoophilic exhibitionism,” where a mildly mentally impaired man masturbated in front of large, male and female dogs, but never exposed himself to women. The man desired and practiced no sexual contact with the dogs other than frottage: rubbing himself on them, and letting the animals lick off his ejaculate. In addition, he engaged in “zoophilic voyeurism”—peeping through windows to watch dogs fornicate. Even though this patient had satisfactory sexual relationships with women, he preferred zoophilic exhibitionism. Rosenbauer(1997) used the terms “mixoscopia bestialis” and “mixoscopic zoophilia” to refer to sexual arousal derived from observing animals mating.
Just as “sadism” describes the deriving of sexual pleasure from inflicting pain or harm or causing death in an interpersonal sexual context,“zoosadism” relates to the experience of sexual pleasure when torturing or killing animals, sometimes in combination with sexual practices. Although there are a variety of cases involving different kinds of animals and types of injury, in particular the sexual abuse of poultry (such as chicken, ducks, or geese), and rabbits should be noted. The penetration of the animal in combination with strangling the animal or breaking its neck provides sexual stimulation to the zoosadist; also there is physical stimulation due to the spasms of the dying animal (Beetz 2002; Miletski 2002).
More recently, the following definitions of zoophilia and bestiality were put forward by Miletski (1999) and Kurrelggyre (1995 cited in Miletski2002). According to these authors, zoophilia is characterized by an emotional attachment to animals that causes a person to prefer an animal as asexual partner, or includes a sexual attraction. Bestiality, however, describes any sexual contact between humans and animals, or any physical contact with animals that leads to sexual excitement and pleasure for the person involved. Miletski (2002) stated that bestiality and zoophilia do not represent distinct categories, but rather may occur in combination, or flow into each other over a spectrum of human–animal relations. These definitions of bestiality and zoophilia are also used in the same way by most zoophiles themselves. Furthermore, Miletski (2002) proposed in reference to her data that some cases of zoophilia even fulfill the criteria for a sexual orientation (Francoeur 1991 cited in Miletski 2002) towards animals, named “zoosexuality.” “Zoosexuals” have an emotional as well as a sexual attraction to, and relationship with, animals (Miletski 2002). As with other sexual orientations such as homosexuality or bisexuality, it is difficult to distinguish one sexual orientation from another, as sometimes fantasy life and desire are not translated accordingly into actual behavior. Several studies (e.g., Beetz2002; Miletski 2002; Williams and Weinberg 2003) have documented that the majority of persons engaging in sex with animals also have sexual experiences with human partners, and that some prefer to have sex with both animals and humans. Only for people who have a predominant or exclusive attraction to animals and who do not practice sex with humans would the diagnosis of an exclusively zoosexual orientation apply.
The information cited above demonstrates that the types of sexual interest in animals vary widely. It has been claimed (Massen 1994) that a latent sexual interest in animals can be found in many people an indicator of this might be the frequently observed interest and sexual excitement people have watching the mating of animals (Massen 1994). At the other end of the continuum, the sexual orientation towards animals is located (Miletski 2002). Massen (1994, p. 57) proposed that there were nine basic forms of zoophilia, and added that often several of these forms occur in combination:
1) incidental experience and latent zoophilia,
2) zoophile voyeurism (also called mixoscopic zoophilia),
3) frottage (Massen 1994 described this as physical contact as source of pleasure),
4) the animal as a tool for masturbatory activities,
5) the animal as a surrogate object for a behavioral fetishism (such assadomasochistic practices, sexual murder, etc.),
6) the animal as fetish (fixation on one specific kind, breed, or individual),
7) physical contact and affection,
8) the animal as a surrogate for a human sex partner, and
9) the animal as deliberately and voluntarily chosen sex partner.This list is not exhaustive in its description of types and motivations,and especially zoophilia and zoo sexuality need to be investigated further.
With regard to actual sexual practices involving animals, nearly every practice found in a human, human sexual context is possible (for an overview see Beetz 2002). Voyeurism, exhibitionism, masturbatory practices (rubbing against the animal for own sexual stimulation or masturbating the animal), oral, oral contact, oral genital contact (with animal or human receiving), and vaginal or anal penetration of the animal or the human can be found, sometimes in combination with masochistic or sadistic practices, orin a context of interpersonal violence and physical and sexual abuse. No accurate data on the prevalence of the different practices and contexts exist. However, the studies of Beetz (2002), Miletski (2002), and Williams and Weinberg (2003) give details on the preferences for certain practices and species among people who admit to having sexual contact with animals.

Recent Studies on Sexual Contacts with Animals Methodologies

Even though other authors have also contributed a lot of valuable information on bestiality and zoophilia, this paper concentrates mainly on three studies: Beetz (2002), Miletski (2002), and Williams and Weinberg (2003). Their studies are special not only because they collected data from large samples (about 100 people), concentrated exclusively on bestiality and zoophilia, and have been conducted during the last five years, but also because they worked with completely voluntary samples and utilized the Internet to make initial contact. A similar approach with volunteers was employed by Peretti and Rowan (1983), but their study focused on factors related to the sustained practice of bestiality, named chronic zoophilia.
In this paper, mainly the results from the Miletski (2002), Beetz (2002)and Williams and Weinberg (2003) studies are reported; however, where relevant, the results of Peretti and Rowan (1983) will be referred to. A short introduction to the methodologies and sample characteristics of each study will now be provided.
Peretti and Rowan (1983) obtained data from 27 men and 24 women, aged 17 to 28 years, who had engaged in sexual contact with animals at least twice a month for a minimum of two years. All participants were referred to the researchers by their physicians and volunteered to be interviewed face-to-face about factors related to their sustained practice of bestiality. All of them also had satisfactory human sexual relations.
Miletski’s (2002) research began with her dissertational project. She collected material from conventional sources as well as the Internet, and developed a 350-item questionnaire which asked for personal data and information on childhood history, sexual history, current sexual behaviors and preferences for humans and animals, and animal ownership. Miletski established contact with participants mainly via the Internet, although she had also tried other ways, such as through advertisements in a newspaper. Questionnaires were posted after personal contact had been made by phone, as Miletski wanted to have some control over who received the questionnaire. Overall, data from 82 men and 11 women who had engaged in sexual contact with animals were obtained. Thirty-six percent were between 19 and 29 years old, 27% between 30 and 39, and 36% between 40 and 49. More than 90% were Caucasian, and about half of the sample were college graduates or people with a higher qualification. All of the women and 87% of the men came from the United States; 5% came from Germany. Twenty-six percent of the men had never been married or had lived in a sexual relationship with another person for a month or more.
At around the same time, Williams and Weinberg (2003) used an approach similar to Miletski’s, starting data collection in 1999. They had established contact with people practicing sex with animals via a specialized website, and had designed a questionnaire that volunteers could answer on-line, after contacting the authors via email. The questionnaire asked about “shared identity” how participants labeled themselves with respect to their sexual interest in animals and how they related to others with the same interest the nature of their sexual interest in animals, sexual contact with animals, human sexual desires and contacts, and the balance of animal and human sexual desires (p. 526). Data from 114 men were analyzed; only five women and one transgender responded to the questionnaire. Ninety-one percent of the male participants, all of whom were White, lived in the United States. Their ages ranged from 18 to 70 years, with a median age of 27 years. Sixty-four percent had never been married and were single, and 83% had at least some college education or had completed college. Thirty-four percent of the men were living in a rural area and 36% in a large city or its suburbs.
In 2000, Beetz (2002) collected data from 113 men and three women who reported sexual experiences with animals and had volunteered to answer a set of questionnaires. Similar to the other studies, one questionnaire sought information on personal data, animal ownership, sexual experiences with humans and animals, preferences in relation to sex with animals and humans, and mental problems. As the purpose of the study was to also collect data on the personality of people engaging in sex with animals, the following standardized instruments were used: California Psychological Inventory (CPI, Gough 1987); Feelings, Reactions and Beliefs Survey (FRBS, Cartwright and Mori 1988; Höger 1994, 1995, personal communication 1999); Inventory of Interpersonal Problems (IIP, Horowitz et al. 1994, 2000); Attitude and Preference Questionnaire (Zuckerman 1979; Tellegen 1982; Levenson et al.1995; Möller, personal communication 1999); and the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT based on Murray 1943), rated for motive content. These allowed for the comparison of this group to normal populations in relation to personality and motives. All questionnaires, with the exception of the CPI, were made available in English and German, as first contacts on the Internet had shown that a large percentage of the possible participants were from German-speaking countries. The assessment of personality was an important part of this study. It provided information that has never been obtained before and addressed some of the prejudices about bestiality, such as that persons who engage in bestiality are more violent, are psychopathic, are less socially competent, or have more interpersonal problems than those who don’t engage in it. Participants were approached in German and English speaking Internet chat rooms and via the main German and American mailing-lists dealing with zoophilia/bestiality. Volunteers had to contact the author via email, and the questionnaires were sent and returned online. In addition to the questionnaires, detailed interviews were conducted with 36 men and three women, 22 of them in a face-to-face situation. At interview, questions were repeated from the questionnaire in more detail, and participants were asked further about their developmental history of sexual experiences and relationships with humans and animals. Due to the small number of female participants, only the data of the men will be reported here (for information on the female participants, see Beetz 2002). Beetz’s sample differs from those of Miletski (2002) and Williams and Weinberg (2003) in far fewer came from the US: only 35% of the men were from the US; 32% came from Germany. Overall, in Beetz’s (2002) study, 40% of the participants came from the US, Canada or Australia, and 56% from Europe; thirty-seven percent of the respondents answered the German version of the questionnaires. The average age of the men was 30 years (SD= 9.88) and about 70% had at least some college education or a higher level of education. At the time of data collection, only 21% of the men lived in a stable relationship with a human partner.
Important to note is that all of the authors cited above had personal contact (face-to-face) with their participants either at gatherings and/or during their data collection. Such contact can provide a more comprehensive impression and understanding of the situation, compared with just questionnaire data.


Summary of Results

In the following paragraphs, the findings of Beetz (2002), Miletski (2002),and Williams and Weinberg (2003) on species involved, practices engaged in, motives involved in sexual contacts with animals, the development of zoophilia, sexual relations with human partners, the personality of zoophiles, links with mental health problems, the distinction between bestiality and zoophilia, and further diverse findings are reported. It needs to be kept in mind that the reported data cannot be generalized to the whole population of people engaging in sex with animals, and that they only refer to the voluntary samples investigated in these studies, or a similar population. Even though this is a limitation of the findings, the data can give some

TB1.jpg

insight into this special sub-group of people. It is very likely, though, that the data suffer from positive selection bias (i.e., people who were low on violence and placed more importance on emotional involvement), due to only volunteers participating.

Species and Sex of Animals Involved

Table 1 shows the different animals (and sex of) which male participants reported to have had sexual relations with. It seems surprising that dogs are the species most often selected for sexual relations and that male dogs are preferred, as the common assumption is that usually female farm animals are most commonly approached. Fewer participants, but still about one in every two, had ever had sex with a horse. A remarkable difference comes up in relation to sexual experiences with cows and bulls. In Miletski’s (2002) sample, far more men reported sexual relations with these animals than among the men investigated by Beetz (2002); overall, only 14% of Beetz’s sample indicated having sexual experiences with farm animals. One explanation may be related to the percentage of European/German participants in Beetz’s sample; possibly in Germany it is more difficult to gain access to cows, as in many parts of the country these animals are mainly kept in closed stables. Remarkable, too, is the percentage of men approaching bulls in a sexual manner, a practice that would be rather dangerous.
Other animal species approached by Miletski’s (2002) participants were female sheep (21%), female felines (20%), male felines (17%), female swine(16%), female goats (13%), and male swine, male goats and female fowls (10% each). A few participants also reported sexual interactions with llamas/camels, donkeys, deer, tapirs, rabbits, rhesus macaques, wolves, largecats (e.g., lions and tigers), and a rhinoceros. Beetz (2002) found that two men in her sample had sexual experiences with large cats and that five men wished to have sexual encounters with large cats. In addition, four men were sexually interested in dolphins and two men had had actual sexual experiences with this species (intercourse did not happen in all cases). Even though this might sound rather unbelievable, my impression from the personal interviews I conducted (Beetz 2002) is that these reports are true (Beetz 2002).
Miletski (2002) found that the men in her sample had sex with a number of animals of one species. The average number of dogs involved in sex with one man was 22, ranging from 1 to 400. Williams and Weinberg (2003) reported an average of eight animals involved in sex with one man. With regard to the sex of the animals involved, no clear preference was observed. More than half of the men in Beetz’s (2002) study had sexual experiences with both male and female dogs and horses.

Sexual Practices Involving Animals

Table 2 shows the sexual practices that participants engaged in with animals. Masturbating an animal was a very common practice reported by the participants, mostly performed with male dogs. Also, vaginal intercourse with female animals, in particular horses, occurred quite frequently. Not only dogs but also horses were reported to perform fellatio, and a large proportion of men orally stimulated the animal. Anal penetration of the animal was practiced less often, but definitely more often with horses than with dogs. The high percentage of men who encouraged anal penetration by the animal is surprising, especially when you consider the huge risk of injury to men who allow horses to penetrate them. Further practices reported were voyeurism in relation to animals mating or human–animal sexual performances, French kissing, fisting the animal, frottage, and sexual “play” with the animal’s urine and feces.
Among Beetz’s (2002) sample, 52.6% of the men who were sexually active with dogs reported sexual contact with this species several times a week, and 18.6% did so about once a month. Only 21.4% of the men who were active with horses indicated sexual contact several times a week; the majority had sex with horses between once a month and once a year. Miletski (2002) found that among her sample the average frequency of sexual animal contact was 2.96 times per week.
About half of Miletski’s (2002) sample, 48%, admitted to at least once having used force on an animal in relation to sex, with over half of them


TB2a.jpg
stating that they had only done it in the past. About 10% of Beetz’s (2002) sample admitted to the use of force; six men (5.3%) reported that they had harmed/injured an animal by engaging in sex with it, and three of them stated that this was not intentional—it had been an accident. Three men investigated by Miletski (2002) reported that they had at least on one occasion been forced by others to engage in sex with animals.

Motives/Reasons for Sexual Contact with Animals

A variety of reasons or motives for engaging in sexual relations with animals were found. Among Miletski’s (2002) sample, the reason reported by most men, 91%, was “sexual attraction,” followed by the “wish to express love and affection to the animals” (74%). A reason for 67% of the men was that “animals are accepting and easy to please,” and 66% claimed that “the animal wants it.” Further reasons were “relieving sexual tension” (40%), “I can only trust animals” (39%), the wish to “experience something different” (25%), “I identify with the animal of my gender” (24%), “I see it in pornography” (21%), “loneliness” (15%), “no human partner” (12%), “too shy to have sex with humans” (7%), and “If I did to humans what I do to animals, I would be arrested” (3%).
In Beetz’s (2002) study, the following percentages of men indicated different reasons for their sexual involvement with animals: “it is innate”(57.5%), “it is learned” (17.7%), “permanent contact with animals”(28.3%), “lack of other sexual outlet” (12.4%), “opportunity” (24.8%), “by accident” (18.6%), “animal-sex is less complicated” (26.5%), and “animals are better lovers” (30.1%).
In Williams and Weinberg’s (2003) study, the reasons most often reported by male zoophiles as having had “a lot or more than little” influence on their sexual interest in animals were “sex with animals is pleasurable” (73%), “a desire for affection” (49%), “family had a household pet”(23%), “not being popular” (19%), “unpleasant sexual experiences with humans” (14%), and the “fear of AIDS or other sex diseases” (7%).
The data of Peretti and Rowan (1983) show that the men in their sample engaged in chronic zoophilia for a number of reasons: “sexual expressiveness” (93%), “sexual fantasy” (81%), “no need for negotiation” (74%),“no human social involvements necessary” (63%), “economical reasons”(59%) and “emotional involvement” (26%).
As these data show, the lack of a human partner is a minor reason for engaging in bestiality.

Development of Sexual Activities with Animals

First sexual experiences with animals occurred predominantly in the early or mid-teens. Williams and Weinberg (2003) found the onset of zoosexual activity to be between 11 and 14 years of age, and two-thirds of their sample had sex with an animal before the age of 17 years. Of the men investigated by Beetz (2002), two-thirds had their first sexual experience with animals by the age of 17, and about 50% had it between the ages of 12 and 15 years; surprisingly, 6% had their first sexual contact with animals under the age of 10 years. Miletski (2002) presented similar data: the average age for men experiencing their first zoosexual encounter was 13 years. As with current sexual contact with animals, the species involved during first sexual contact with animals varied widely. In Miletski’s (2002) sample, 35% of men had their first sexual experience with their own pet, and 38% with the animal of someone they knew. Twenty-nine percent had their first sexual contact with an animal in a home environment, and 44% had it outside. Only 12% had negative feelings after their first experience, while 30% had mixed feelings, and 58% had positive feelings.
First sexual fantasies with animals started on average around the same time as the first experiences: at the age of 13 years (Beetz 2002). And although about half of the men interviewed (n= 36) in Beetz’s (2002) study said they had a normal relationship with animals in childhood, about one-third claimed to have had a much closer attachment to their pets than other people have.
Only a small amount of the collected data can be reported here; further information about the development of sexual activities with animals can be found in Miletski (2002) and Beetz (2002). The case descriptions in their reports certainly provide a thorough insight into the diversity of life histories leading to sexual contact with animals.

Sexual Activities with Human Partners

Sexual activities with human partners were quite common among the participants in the studies reviewed here. The experience of heterosexual intercourse was reported by 83% of the men surveyed by Miletski (2002), and about two-thirds had had at least some homosexual encounters. Sexual experiences with both sexes were also common (43%) in Beetz’s (2002) study. However, 17% of Williams and Weinberg’s (2003) sample and 24% of Beetz’s (2002) sample never had any sexual experiences with human partners (an association with lower age was found by Beetz 2002). Also, 13% of the men investigated by Williams and Weinberg (2003) and 24.8% of the men investigated by Beetz (2002) indicated that they were not sexually interested in either men or women. In relation to a self-assigned sexual orientation, Beetz (2002) found that 44% of here participants regarded themselves as predominantly heterosexual, 15% as bisexual, and 16% as predominantly homosexual. Respectively, the figures from Miletski (2002) are 72%, 8%,and 20% (no category for “not interested in humans” was included).
Even though the majority of men (61.9%) in Beetz’s (2002) study would have liked to have had a steady relationship with a human partner, not many did at the time of data collection. Asked about other sexual interests or activities, about 7% indicated an interest in sex with minors/children (Beetz 2002; Miletski 2002), sadistic sex (1.8%), masochistic sex (4.4%), bondage (8.8%), use of feces/urine (11.5%), and exhibitionism (9.7%) (Beetz 2002). Nine percent of Miletski’s (2002) participants reported to have forced someone to do something sexual that they didn’t want to do.
Looking at the importance of sex with humans versus sex with animals in the whole sex history of the participants, it becomes clear that sex with animals was more important than, or was preferred to, sex with humans for the majority of participants: this was true for more than two-thirds of Williams and Weinberg’s (2003) sample and 56.6% of Beetz’s (2002). Sex with humans and sex with animals were equally important for about a quarter of the participants in each study, and 14.2% of Beetz’s (2002) respondents and just a few in the Williams and Weinberg (2003) study said that sex with humans was more important for them. Interestingly, placing more importance on sex with animals was found to be connected to a lack of sexual experiences with human partners (Beetz 2002; Williams and Weinberg 2003). In relation to actual experiences—not preferences—about a quarter of the male zoophiles (Beetz 2002) stated that animal sex took place rather rarely, while for most (58.4%) sex with animals was the predominant or only kind of sexual activity (apart from masturbation).

Personality of Men Engaging in Sex with Animals

Beetz (2002) compared the personality data of her male sample, using a number of psychometric scales (detailed earlier), with the available normative data. Social desirability was checked via control scales. According to the results, the zoophile sample described themselves as more shy, uneasy in social situations, and more detached and self-sufficient, in comparison to the normal population. They felt more uncomfortable with people and were less open to feelings in human relationships. Even though they enjoyed company, they did not like the investment of effort and time necessary for such contact. They preferred freedom from obligations and were more self-centered and distrusting. Overall, they described them-selves as having more difficulties in interpersonal relationships than the normal population (Beetz 2002).
When asked directly about sociability, the majority of male zoophiles reported to have friends and to be of average sociability (Miletski 2002), but the majority (51.3%) in Beetz’s (2002) study socialized primarily with other zoophiles. Not unexpectedly, the zoophile men indicated they were more norm-doubting and unconventional. With regard to “sensation seeking,” the zoophiles were found to be less susceptible to boredom, while results on experience-seeking and thrill- and adventure-seeking did not show any significant differences from the normal population. On the psychopathy scales, the participants showed the same degree or even fewer signs of primary or secondary psychopathy than the normal population. Furthermore, participants indicated they had average to above-averageempathic abilities, were slightly better judges of what and how people feel and think, and were as or more sympathetic and helpful than the normal population (Beetz 2002). One explanation for better developed empathicability could be their need to perceive and interpret nonverbal communication from animals accurately; this is especially needed if they do indeed approach unfamiliar animals in a non-forceful way, as many claim to do.
The need for control and dominance by the zoophiles studied by Beetz(2002) did not differ from the normal population. A sub-group which reported that they engaged in “fence-hopping” to get access to animals described themselves as more self-confident, self-accepting, and assertive than the rest of the sample, and showed a lower level of social inhibition.
It is important to note that the results detailed above cannot be generalized to all persons engaging in sex with animals, as the time and effort to participate in this study (3- to 4-hour questionnaire, 2-hour interview) most likely led to a biased sample.

Mental Health Problems

Many of the male zoophiles had been in psychotherapy: 50% of Miletski’s(2002) sample and 38.1% of Beetz’s (2002) sample. It is interesting that some of these men were from Germany, where it is not as common as in the US to seek professional help for mental health problems. Only a few of the men were in treatment because of their sexual interest in animals (7.1%, Beetz 2002); more frequently, depression was the cause (12.4%,Beetz 2002). Other reasons for seeking therapy were social problems (5.3%, Beetz 2002), attention deficit hyperactivity syndrome, phobias, compulsions, antisocial personality disorder, family problems, nervous breakdowns, and paraphilic behaviors.
Of the men in Miletski’s (2002) study, 36% were happy most of the time, 33% were generally satisfied, about 30% were rather unhappy, and 22% had tried to commit suicide at least once. Whether their problems were directly linked to their sexual interest in animals remains unclear, but 85% of the men did not want to stop their sexual activity with animals (Miletski 2002). Half of the men in psychotherapy told their therapist about their sexual activity with animals, and in half of those cases reactions from the therapist were negative, ranging from ridicule, threats to report to the police, disbelief, and a lack of knowledge about the existence of such practices, to an attempt at a forceful cure (Miletski 2002).

Bestiality and Zoophilia

As explained earlier, the main difference between bestiality and zoophilia (as defined by zoophiles, Beetz 2002; Miletski 2002) is that zoophilia, besides involving sexual contact with animals, also includes an emotional involvement with the animal. When asked about their emotional involvement, only a few men (3.5%, Beetz 2002) reported having no emotional attachment to the animal they were having sex with, while about 20% indicated a “normal” attachment, like one has with a pet, and the majority(76.1%) reported a very strong emotional attachment, comparable to love between human partners. However, it is obvious that a person engaging in infrequent sex with a variety of animals will not have a strong emotional involvement to each, while this may be different when the person has a relationship with his/her own animal or has regular contact with an animal participants talked about the strongest involvement they ever had.
Another similarity to human relationships is the phenomenon of “falling in love” with animals: this was reported by 78.8% of the men in Beetz’s (2002) study. A further indicator of a strong emotional aspect to sexual relations with animals came out when male zoophiles were asked if they would allow others to have sex with their animal; only 24% said they would generally allow this, 53% would only allow it under certain circumstances to certain people, while 23% would not allow this at all (Miletski 2002). Frequently, jealousy was cited as a reason for not allowing others to have sex with their animal, again pointing to a strong emotional relationship. However, in the study by Beetz (2002), more than 75% of the men stated that they had at least once had sex with another person’s animal, without the knowledge of the owner.
When asked to classify themselves as zoophiles or bestialists, half of Miletski’s (2002) sample put themselves in the first category, and only 9% in the latter. About one-third stated that they were both bestialists and zoophiles, probably because they had an emotional involvement with one specific animal and also practiced sex with other animals, with whom they had no special emotions.

Animal Protection Involvement and Internet Usage

A further interesting finding, although not unexpected, was that about one-third of the male zoophiles in Beetz’s (2002) study reported to be actively involved in animal protection. Less than 10% of the men in the studies by Beetz (2002) and Miletski (2002) worked with animals in their jobs.
As nearly all the participants of the three studies described in this paper were approached via the Internet, the time respondents spent on the Internet, also in terms of socializing via this medium, was of interest. Beetz (2002)found that the average time spent online per week was 25 hours, with a quarter of the sample spending between six and ten hours online and another quarter between eleven and 20 hours; about 9% spent more than 30 hours online and 14% spent more than 40 hours. A large proportion of this online time was spent talking with other zoophiles privately and/or in a chat room related to their shared sexual interest. For most of the men interested in sex with animals, the information available on the Internet (FAQs, chatrooms) and the exchange with like-minded others was perceived as helpful and important: many lacked knowledge, and the medium allowed them for the first time to openly talk about their sexual activity with others. Although a lot of sites on the Internet provide pornographic material, and some sites provide instructions on how to have sexual interactions with different species (which could potentially promote the practice of bestiality), the value of the online-exchange cannot be underestimated for persons who struggle with issues of self-acceptance and isolation due to their sexual interest. Of the zoophile men investigated by Beetz (2002), 18% reported serious problems with acceptance by others and society, 6% had trouble finding a partner and were lonely, and 8% had trouble keeping their sexual activity with animals secret. All of these men had already found the resources available on the Internet.

Philosophy and Bestiality

Overall, philosophy has rarely dealt with the issue of bestiality. Kant (1724–1804), in his ethical theory, and in relation to the practice of bestiality, emphasized a person’s duty to oneself (Denis 1999). Besides his formula for humanity, his concept of nature’s purposes and unnatural uses of a person’s sexual capacities addressed deviant sexual practices. According to Kant, bestiality—like masturbation or homosexuality—was not only against the animal nature and humans’ natural instincts, but it degraded people “below the level of animals” (cited in Denis 1999, p. 232); by engaging in bestiality, humans neglected their duties to themselves. Kant argued that bestialists should be cast out of human society and be deprived of all human rights (Masters 1962). Arguments such as Kant’s can still be found in today’s discussions on bestiality, although in Western societies his opinions on masturbation and homosexuality were revised.
Although at the time most philosophers more or less agreed with Kant’s view, Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) approached the discussion on bestiality from a different perspective (Crompton 1978). He pointed to the danger of innocent people being accused of bestiality by those attempting to discredit them, and argued that giving the issue of bestiality too much attention only shocked people and that this was not helpful in any way (Crompton 1978).
That bestiality still remains largely a taboo subject very likely results from an attempt to defend strong ethnic, religious, or institutional regulations (Davies 1982). Rather than considering bestiality as a problem of a single person, the involved animal, and its owner, it has been perceived as a violation of the whole community (Brown 1952, cited in Davies 1982).

Society and Bestiality

The subject of bestiality rarely comes to the attention of the general public, but when it does common reactions include ridicule, disgust, interest or fast dismissal, as it is regarded as being of little importance and of low prevalence. Only in animal protection, animal ethics, and research in the fields of criminology, sociology, mental health and psychology has bestiality been discussed thoughtfully. Whether there is any acceptance for this behavior in society, even in states where bestiality is not criminalized, is not known, as very few people actually convey their opinion on the subject. It seems, though, that there is still a strong influence of old religious and moral values/codes, condemning any kind of sexual contact with animals. Therefore mentioning bestiality frequently evokes rather emotional and extreme reactions. Even when scholarly research in this area is published, authors are faced depending on the results with criticism, and not just from their peers. Therefore any statement addressing bestiality needs to be made with caution, respecting the sensitivity of the subject.
The problems attached to addressing the topic of bestiality can be evidenced from a recent situation. Peter Singer, well known for his work Animal Liberation (1975), reviewed Midas Dekker’s (1994) book on bestiality, Dearest Pet, online in Nerve magazine (Singer 2001a), and was heavily criticized by many people, among them Piers Beirne, who regards all sexual acts with animals as interspecies sexual assault (Beirne 1997). Supposedly, Singer promoted an “attitude of liberal tolerance towards bestiality” (Beirne2001, p. 44) and suggested that bestiality should be tolerated as long as it does not involve cruelty (Beirne 2001). It seems Singer did not expect the wave of criticism, especially from the animal rights movement, that followed his review, which he wrote to provoke a more frank discussion and was not meant for a scholarly forum (see Beirne 2001; Singer 2001b).
More surprising were the reactions to a new contribution on bestiality not in the field of science, but in the arts. The play “The Goat” by Edward Albee, which portrays the life and problems of a man who falls in love with a goat, ran on Broadway in 2004, as well as internationally, and even received an award. Naturally, opinions about it were diverse. However, when I saw the play (in Germany), no openly negative reactions were observed or heard among the audience during the break or after the play had ended. Instead, sympathetic reactions seemed to prevail, influenced undoubtedly by the self-selection of the audience: they chose to be confronted with a different view on sexual contacts with, and love of, animals.


Conclusions

The phenomenon of sexual contact with animals has started to lose its status as a taboo: it is appearing more often in scholarly publications, and the public are being confronted with it, too. Animals today have become an integral part of people’s lives, especially in their role as pets, but are also intensively used (e.g., in farming, medical research, sport). Their sexuality is controlled in breeding and farming for economic reasons, and for a large proportion of pets it is strongly influenced by neutering and the deprivation of any outlet for sexual needs. And while nonsexual touch, sharing a bed with a pet, cuddling or kissing it, and emotionally very close relationshipsare widely accepted, sometimes the boundary between nonsexual and sexual touch becomes blurred, and one may lead to the other. In these cases,the intention of the person or the gain of personal sexual pleasure seem to be important diagnostic criteria. But one could ask provocatively whether the intention of the human really makes a difference for the animal involved, and what kinds of intrusions are actually stressful and harmful. Sexual contact between humans and animals, especially its violent forms, is definitely an issue that needs to be discussed in animal protection. However, it needs to be addressed less emotionally and in perspective with other sexually intrusive acts which are performed on animals and which society supports (e.g., pregnancy testing, artificial insemination).
As the studies in this paper show, more knowledge about the practice of bestiality and zoophilia is needed. In particular, in the mental health professions information and a rational and professional handling of patients who disclose their sexual activity with animals are needed. And the available information on the different forms of bestiality, the reasons for them, and possible links with mental health problems could be helpful to the patient.
Little is known about sexual contact between women and animals, as itis difficult to find women engaging in bestiality who are willing to participate in research. More research in this area is definitely needed. Some studies, even though they were conducted a long time ago, show that bestiality is certainly practiced by women, and at a prevalence that cannot be dismissed.
The Internet has proven to be important for people who have a sexual interest in animals, as well as being a useful place to conduct research in this area. Obviously there are also negative aspects of this online information, such as animal pornography. It seems, though, as if a large proportion of this pornographic material is not produced for zoophiles, rather it is for consumers who just want to see something extraordinary.
To conclude, sexual contact with animals—in the form of bestiality or zoophilia needs to be discussed more openly and investigated in more detail by scholars working in disciplines such as animal ethics, animal behavior, anthrozoology, psychology, mental health, sociology, and law.

Acknowledgements

I thank the reviewers for their helpful comments on the first version of this paper.

References

APA. 1980. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.3rd edn. Washington,DC: American Psychiatric Association.
APA. 1994. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.4th edn. Washington,DC: American Psychiatric Association.
Beetz, A. 2002.Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans andAnimals.Doctoral dissertation. Aachen, Germany: Shaker Verlag.
Beirne, P. 1997. Rethinking bestiality: towards a concept of interspecies sexual assault.Theoretical Criminology 1(3): 317–340.
Beirne, P. 2001. Peter Singer’s “Heavy Petting” and the politics of animal sexual assault.Critical Criminology10: 43–55.
Bornemann, E. 1990. Enzyklopädie der Sexualität. Frankfurt/Berlin: Ullstein.
Brown, J. S. 1952. A comparative study of deviations from sexual mores. AmericanSociological Review17(2): 135–146.
Bryant, C. D. 1977. Sexual Deviancy in Social Context. New York: New Viewpoints/Franklin Watts.
Cartwright, D. and Mori, C. 1988. Scales for assessing aspects of the person.Person-Centered Review3: 176–194.
Crompton, L. ed. 1978. Jeremy Bentham’s essay on “paederasty”, part 2. Journal ofHomosexuality 4(1): 91–107.
Davies, C. 1982. Sexual taboos and social boundaries. American Journal of Sociology87(5): 1032–1063.
Dekkers, M. 1994.Dearest Pet: On Bestiality. New York: Verso.
Denis, L. 1999. Kant on the wrongness of “unnatural” sex. History of PhilosophyQuarterly16(2): 225–248.
Francoeur, R. T. 1991. Becoming a Sexual Person.2nd edn. New York: MacmillanPublishing Company.
Gough, H. G. 1987.CPI-California Psychological Inventory. Administrator’s Guide. PaloAlto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc.
Hirschfeld, M. 1956. Sexual Anomalies. New York: Emerson Books.
Höger, D. 1994. FRBS—Feelings, Reactions and Beliefs Survey. Desmond S. Cartwright.2. revidierte Fassung, 1994. Übersetzung A. Angleitner, U. Büsselberg, D. Högerund C. Jennings.
Höger, D. 1995. Deutsche Adaption und erste Validierung des “Feelings, Reactions andBeliefs Survey” (FRBS) von Desmond S. Cartwright. Ein Beitrag zur konzeptorien-tierten Erfassung von Effekten der Klientenzentrierten Gesprächspsychotherapie. InForschung zur Klientenzentrierten Psychotherapie, 167–183, ed. J. Eckert. Köln:GwG-Verlag.
Horowitz, L. M., Alden, L. E., Wiggins, J. S. and Pincus, A. L. 2000.IIP - Inventory ofInterpersonal Problems. USA: The Psychological Corporation.
Horowitz, L.M., Strauß, B. and Kordy, H.; unter Mitarbeit von Alden, L. E., Wiggins, J.S. and Pincus, A. L. 1994. IIP-D.Inventar zur Erfassung Interpersonaler Probleme.Deutsche Version. Manual. Weinheim: Beltz Test GmbH.
Kant, I. 1991. Metaphysics of Morals. Translation by M. J. Gregor. Cambridge:Cambridge University Press.
Karpman, B. 1954. The Sexual Offender and His Offenses.Washington DC: Julian Press.
Krafft-Ebing, R. v. 1894. Psychopathia Sexualis.9th edn. Stuttgart: Enke.
Kurrelgyre. 1995. The Zoophilia Report. Accessed at An373492@anon.penet.fi.
Levenson, M. R., Kiehl, K. A. and Fitzpatrick, C. M. 1995. Assessing psychopathicattributes in a non-institutionalized population. Journal of Personality and SocialPsychology68(1): 151–158.
Massen, J. 1994.Zoophilie. Die sexuelle Liebe zu Tieren. Köln: Pinto Press.
Masters, R. E. L. 1962. Forbidden Sexual Behavior and Morality.New York: JulianPublishers.
Masters, R. E. L. 1966.Sex-Driven People. Los Angeles, CA: Sherbourne Press, Inc.
McNally, R. J. and Lukach, R. M. 1991. Behavioral treatment of zoophilic exhibitionism.Journal of Behavioural Therapy & Experimental Psychiatry 22(4): 281–284.
Miletski, H. 1999. Bestiality/zoophilia: An exploratory study. Doctoral dissertation.Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality, San Francisco, CA.
Miletski, H. 2002. Understanding Bestiality and Zoophilia.Bethesda, MD: Author.
Money, J. 1986. Lovemaps.New York: Irvington Publishers, Inc.
Peretti, P. O. and Rowan, M. 1983. Zoophilia: factors related to its sustained practice.Panminerva Medica 25: 127–131.
Rosenbauer, F. 1997. Sexueller Kontakt mit Tieren.Semesterarbeit in der Veranstaltung“Sexuelle Störungen” im SS 1997 bei Prof. C. Möller. Siegen. Accessed at:http://www.rosenbauer.de/ha-zo.htm.
Schmidt, W. 1969. Neurosenpsychologische Aspekte der Sodomie.Dissertation.Universität München.
Singer, P. 1975. Animal Liberation.New York: Avon.
Singer, P. 2001a. Heavy petting. Nerve(March/April).www.nerve.com/Opinions/Singer/heavyPetting.
Singer, P. 2001b. Clarification (of) the circumstances and intent of (my) review of MidasDekkers’ bookDearest Pet. Princeton University press release, April 14.
Stayton, W. R. 1994. Sodomy. In Human Sexuality: An Encyclopedia.ed. V. L. Bulloughand B. Bullough. New York: Garland Publishing.
Stekel, W. 1952. Patterns of Psychosexual Infantilism. New York: Liveright.
Tellegen, A. P. 1982. Manual for the Multidimensional Personality Questionnaire.Department of Psychiatry, University of Minnesota.
Williams J. W. and Weinberg M. S. 2003. Zoophilia in men: A study of sexual interest inanimals. Archives of Sexual Behavior 32(6): 523–535.
Zuckerman, M. 1979.Sensation Seeking: Beyond the Optimal Level for Arousal.NewJersey: Lawrence Earlbaum Association.

Author
knotinterested
Downloads
136
Views
4,058
First release
Last update
Rating
4.67 star(s) 3 ratings

More resources from knotinterested

Share this resource

Latest reviews

Good read!
This article attempts to aggregate previous findings into a more easily digested form, and represents the findings of each in a neutral way.

I applaud the guarded positivity in the conclusion. Shamefully, even today remarking in such a way can earn a writer no end of scorn. Dr. A. M. Beetz was brave to react in such an objective manner.
Very informative. A similar study was conducted by Peretti and Rowan, but their study focused on the sustained practice of bestiality, named chronic zoophilia.
Top