Today’s theme for many – and Americans in particular – has been rainbow-coloured and hashtagged #LoveWins. I don’t write about politics. But I wanted to share in the overall celebration, so here are some examples of animals who also have loving same-sex relationships.
- Domestic sheep – as many as eight per cent of rams in a flock of sheep may prefer a same-sex partner for forming an exclusive pair bond. Without mating, they otherwise spend their time as any normal sheep couple would.
- Flamingoes – a social bird species that forms life-long pair bonds; normally these bonds are male-female, but it is not unusual to find male-male couples. In captivity they have been observed to foster baby chicks, too – with parenting skills on par with regular couples.
- Black swans – this Australian species of waterbird is a monogamous species, and it has been estimated that up to a quarter of their population has homosexual pairings, typically male. These birds also rear chicks, often after stealing a nest or forming a temporary threesome with a female to obtain some eggs.
- Bonobos – the primates most closely related to humans are a social, lively bunch that likes sex, a lot. They use it to resolve conflicts and form social bonds, and do not discriminate much between genders when it comes to procuring a sexual partner. To be fair though, bonobos are typically viewed as largely bisexual.
These are just a few examples – animals engage in homosexual behaviour across mammal, bird, and even insect classes.
There is often a strategic explanation for their behaviour from an evolutionary point of view, for example, female-female bondings often happen when there aren’t enough males in a population to pair up with. We humans, with all our complex socially and culturally interwoven biology, are different and more diverse in the way we form relationships, and are perhaps most true to form when it comes to homosexual, monogamous, lifelong pair bonding – but we are definitely not the only animals who sometimes are gay.