Various other terms have been used by clinicians and by zoophiles (individuals with zoophilia) themselves. Zoophilia refers specifically to sexual interest in animals, not sexual behavior involving animals..
Although sexual interactions with animals is legal in some countries (see: legal aspects), it is not explicitly condoned anywhere today. In most countries, such acts are illegal under animal abuse laws or laws dealing with crimes against nature.
The more recent terms zoosexual and zoosexuality describe the full spectrum of human/animal orientation. A separate term, bestiality, refers specifically to human/animal sexual activity. To avoid confusion about the meaning of zoophilia — which may refer to the affinity/attraction, paraphilia, or sexual activity — this article uses zoophilia for the former, and zoosexual activity for the sexual act.
The terms zoosexuality, signifying the entire spectrum of emotional or sexual attraction and/or orientation to animals, and zoosexual (as in, "a zoosexual [person]" or "a zoosexual act"), have been used since the 1980s (cited by Miletski, 1999). Technical discussion of zoosexuality as a sexual orientation in psychology is discussed in that article.
Individuals with a strong affinity for animals but without a sexual interest can be described as "non-sexual" (or "emotional") zoophiles, but may object to the zoophile label. They are commonly called animal lovers instead.
The ambiguous term sodomy, usually referring to non-procreative sex, is sometimes used in legal contexts to include zoosexual as well as homosexual acts. Zooerasty is an older term, not in common use, for objectified sex with animals in a masturbatory manner. In pornography, human–animal sex is occasionally described as farmsex, dogsex, or animal sex; these terms are often used regardless of the context or species involved.
Bestiality signifies a sexual act between humans and animals. It does not by itself imply any given motive or attitude. It is not always certain whether acts such as kissing, intimate behavior, frottage (rubbing), masturbation, or oral sex are considered 'bestiality' in all cultures or legal systems, or whether the term implies sexual intercourse or other penetrative activity alone. In a non-zoophilic context, words like bestial or bestiality are also used to signify acting or behaving savagely, animal-like, extremely viciously, or lacking in human values. The spelling "beastiality" is nonstandard, yet some experts suggest that this terminology might be more appropriate.
Amongst zoophiles and some researchers, the term "bestialist" has acquired a negative connotation implying a lower concern for animal welfare. This usage originated with the desire by some zoophiles to have a way to distinguish zoophilia as a fully relational outlook (sexual or otherwise), from simple "ownership with sex." Others describe themselves as zoophiles and bestialists in accordance with the dictionary definitions of the words.
Finally, "zoosadism" refers to the torture or pain of animals for sexual pleasure, and also includes willfully abusive zoosexual activity.
The Kinsey reports claim that 40–60% of rural teenagers (living on or near livestock farms) had sexual experience with an animal at some point in their lives, but some later writers consider these uncertain. Anecdotally, Nancy Friday's 1973 book on female sexuality My Secret Garden comprised around 190 women's contributions; of these, some 8% volunteered a serious interest or active participation in zoosexual activity.
In one study, psychiatric patients were found to have a statistically significant higher prevalence rate (55%) of reported bestiality (both actual sexual contacts — 45% — and sexual fantasy — 30%) than the control groups of medical in-patients (10%) and psychiatric staff (15%). 5.3% of the men surveyed by Crépault and Couture (1980) reported sometimes fantasizing about having sexual activity with an animal during heterosexual intercourse. 7.5% of 186 university students questioned in a 1982 study said they had sexually touched or had sexual intercourse with an animal.
Not all people live near animals. Urban dwellers, who usually lack contact with animals, were estimated by Kinsey (1948) to have only one zoosexual contact for every 30 of the average rural dweller. By 1974, the farm population in the USA had reduced by 80% compared to 1940, causing a greatly reduced opportunity for living with animals; Hunt's 1974 study suggests that the demographic changes affecting this one group led to a significant change in overall reported occurrence.
Sexual fantasies about zoosexual acts can occur in people who do not wish to experience them in real life, and may simply reflect normal imagination and curiosity. Latent zoophile tendencies may be common; the frequency of interest and sexual excitement in watching animals mate is cited as an indicator by Massen (1994) and commented on by Masters (1962).
Laws on zoosexuality in modern times are often triggered by specific incidents or by peer pressure. Whilst some laws are very specific, others employ vague terms such as "sodomy" or "bestiality" which lack legal precision and leave it unclear exactly which acts are covered. Other factors affecting the operation of law include enforced assumptions as to abuse, creative use of alternative laws, and the impact of uncodified cultural norms, prohibitions, and social taboos. In the past, bestiality laws were mainly put in place for religious reasons and the belief that sex with an animal could result in monstrous offspring, and were primarily concerned with the offense to community standards.
Currently, the legal status of bestiality varies across the world. In some countries, such as Sweden, and Denmark bestiality remains legal. In Canada, the Netherlands, much of the United States, Australia and New Zealand, it is completely outlawed. In Great Britain, only penetrative acts are illegal. Countries such as Belgium, Germany and Russia are somewhere in between; they permit sexual activity with animals, but strictly prohibit the promotion of animal-oriented pornography.
Notable legal views include Sweden, where a 2005 report by the Swedish Animal Welfare Agency for the Swedish government expressed strong concerns over the increase in reports of horse-ripping incidents. The Swedish Animal Welfare Agency believed current animal cruelty legislation was not sufficient in protecting animals from abuse and needed updating, but concluded that on balance it was not appropriate to call for a ban. In New Zealand, the 1989 Crimes Bill abolished bestiality as a criminal offense, instead viewing it a mental health issue. Some countries once had laws against single males living with female animals. For example, an old Peruvian law allegedly prohibited single males from owning a female alpaca.
Philosopher and animal liberation author Peter Singer argues that zoophilia is not unethical if there is no harm or cruelty to the animal, but this view is not widely shared, with the majority opinion supporting the view that animals, like children, are not capable of informed consent.
Zoophiles tend to perceive differences between animals and human beings as less significant than others do. They often view animals as having positive traits (e.g. honesty, unconditional love) that humans often lack, and feel that society's understanding of non-human sexuality is misinformed. Although some feel guilty about their feelings and view them as a problem, others do not feel a need to be constrained by traditional standards in their private relationships.
Research suggests that zoophiles have above average empathy. As a group they have a lower level of psychopathy than average, and a higher level of sensation seeking and involvement in animal protection. They also have an above average level of social individualism, which can be either inhibitive (e.g., shyness) or empowering (e.g., independence of thought).
The biggest difficulties many zoophiles report are the inability to be accepted or open about their animal relationships and feelings with friends and family, and the fear of harm, rejection or loss of companions if it became known. This situation is similar to "outing" and "the closet" of bisexuality and homosexuality in that thoughts and acts of zoophilia are frowned upon by society. Other major issues are hidden loneliness and isolation (due to lack of contact with others who share this attraction or a belief they are alone), and the impact of repeated deaths of animals they consider lifelong soul mates (most species have far shorter lifespans than humans and zoophiles cannot openly grieve or talk about feelings of loss). Some of these concerns may be qualitatively similar to historical perceptions in other sexual groups that have been legal or illegal at different times in history. Zoophiles do not usually cite internal conflicts over religion as their major issue, perhaps because zoosexual activity, although seemingly condemned by some religions, is not a major focus of their teachings.
Zoophilic sexual relationships vary, and may be based upon variations of human-style relationships (e.g., monogamy), animal-style relationships (each make own sexual choices), physical intimacy (non-sexual touch, mutual social grooming, closeness), or other combinations.
Zoophiles may or may not have human partners and families. Some zoophiles have an affinity or attraction to animals which is secondary to human attraction; for others the bond with animals is primary. Miletski argues that a scale similar to Kinsey's could be applied for this. In some cases human family or friends are aware of the relationship with the animal and its nature; in others, it is hidden. This can sometimes give rise to issues of guilt (as a result of divided loyalties and concealment) or jealousy within human relationships. In addition, zoophiles sometimes enter human relationships due to growing up within traditional expectations, or to deflect suspicions of zoophilia, and yet others may choose looser forms of human relationship as companions or house mates, live alone, or choose other zoophiles to live with.
Not all zoophiles are able to keep animals, or at least not those animals that they feel attracted to, and because of this some resort to trespassing on property to have sexual contact with animals. This practice, known as fence hopping, is often condemned by other zoophiles.
The common feature of "zoophilia" is some form of affective bond to animals beyond the usual, whether emotional or sexual in nature. Non-sexual zoophilia, as with animal love generally, is generally accepted in society, and although sometimes ridiculed, it is usually respected or tolerated. Examples of non-sexual zoophilia can be found on animal memorial pages such as petloss.com, in-memory-of-pets.com (memorial, tribute and support sites), by googling "pet memorials", or on sites such as MarryYourPet.com and other pet marriage sites.
Finally, zoophilia is not related to sexual puppy or pony play (also known as "Petplay") or animal transformation fantasies and roleplays, where one person may act like a dog, pony, horse, or other animal, while a sexual partner acts as a rider, trainer, caretaker, or breeding partner. These activities are sexual roleplays whose principal theme is the voluntary or involuntary reduction or transformation of a human being to animal status, and focus on the altered mind-space created. They have no implicit connection to, nor motive in common with, zoophilia. They are instead more usually associated with BDSM. Zoosexual activity is not part of BDSM for most people, and would usually be considered extreme, or edgeplay.
The nature of animal minds, animal mental processes and structures, and animal self-awareness, perception, emotion in animals, and "map of the world", are studied within animal cognition and also explored within various specialized branches of neuroscience such as neuroethology.
Zoophilia may also be covered to some degree by other (non-science) fields such as ethics, philosophy, law, animal rights and animal welfare. It may also be touched upon by sociology which looks both at zoosadism in examining patterns and issues related to abuse and at non-sexual zoophilia in examining the role of animals as emotional support and companionship in human lives, and may fall within the scope of psychiatry if it becomes necessary to consider its significance in a clinical context.
The DSM-IV (TR) (the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association) requires that the individual does not receive the diagnosis of zoophilia unless it is accompanied by distress or interference with normal functioning on the part of the individual. Critics point out that that DSM-IV says nothing about acceptability or the well-being of the animal, and many critics outside the field express views that sexual acts with animals are always either abusive or unethical.
The first detailed studies of zoophilia date from prior to 1910. Peer reviewed research into zoophilia in its own right started around 1960. However, a number of the most oft-quoted studies, such as Miletski, were not published in peer-reviewed journals. There have been several significant modern books, from Masters (1962) to Beetz (2002), but each of them has drawn and agreed on several broad conclusions:
More recently, research has engaged three further directions - the speculation that at least some animals seem to thrive in a zoosexual relationship, the thesis of psychological research that zoosexuality is closer to a sexual orientation than a sexual fetish, and the supposition that science apparently is closing in on confirming the capacity for authentic emotion in animals, and their enjoyment and choice of actions (including sex) driven by an internal feeling that certain things are pleasurable.
Passages in Leviticus 18 (Lev 18:23: "And you shall not lie with any beast and defile yourself with it, neither shall any woman give herself to a beast to lie with it: it is a perversion." RSV) and 20:15-16 ("If a man lies with a beast, he shall be put to death; and you shall kill the beast. If a woman approaches any beast and lies with it, you shall kill the woman and the beast; they shall be put to death, their blood is upon them." RSV) are cited by Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians as categorical denunciation of bestiality. Some theologians (especially Christian) extend this, to consider lustful thoughts for an animal as a sin, and the Christian theologian Thomas Aquinas described it along with homosexuality as the worst sexual sins "because use of the right sex is not observed."
Views of zoophilia's seriousness in Islam seem to cover a wide spectrum. This may be because it is not explicitly mentioned or prohibited in the Qur'an, or because sex and sexuality were not treated as taboo in Muslim society to the same degree as in Christianity. Some sources claim that sex with animals is abhorrent, others state that while condemned, it is treated with "relative indulgence" and in a similar category to masturbation and lesbianism (Bouhdiba: Sexuality in Islam, Ch.4 link).
A book "Tahrirolvasyleh", cited on the Internet, which quotes the Shia Ayatollah Khomeini approving of sex with animals under certain conditions, is unconfirmed and possibly a forgery. Though the book Tahrir-ul-Vasyleh does exist, there is widespread suspicion concerning the existence and authenticity of such a "fourth book".
There are a few unsubstantiated references in Hindu scriptures to religious figures engaging in sexual activity with animals such as explicit depictions of people having sex with animals included amongst the thousands of sculptures of "Life events" on the exterior of the temple complex at Khajuraho. Orthodox Hindu doctrine holds that sex should be restricted to married couples, thereby forbidding zoosexual acts. A greater punishment is attached to sexual relations with a sacred cow than with other animals.
Buddhism addresses sexual conduct primarily in terms of what brings harm to oneself or to others, and the admonition against sexual misconduct is generally interpreted in modern times to prohibit zoosexual acts, as well as pederasty, adultery, rape, or prostitution. Various sexual activities, including those with animals, are expressly forbidden for Buddhist monks and nuns.
The common concept of animals as heterosexual and only interested in their own species, is seen as scientifically inaccurate by researchers into animal behavior. Animals are, in the main, considered as sexual opportunists by science, rather than sexually naïve. Ethologists such as Desmond Morris who study animal behavior, as well as formal studies, have consistently documented significant masturbation and homosexuality in a wide range of animals, apparently freely chosen or in the presence of the opposite gender, as well as homosexual animal couples, homosexual raising of young, and cross-species sexual advances. Haeberle (1978) states that sexual intercourse is "not so very unusual" between animals of different species as it is between humans and animals, a view with which Kinsey (1948, 1953) concurs. Peter Singer reports of one such incident witnessed by Biruté Galdikas (a notable ethologist considered by many the world's foremost authority on primates):
One of the primary critiques of zoophilia is the argument that zoosexual activity is harmful to animals. Some state this categorically; that any sexual activity is necessarily abuse. Critics also point to examples in which animals were clearly abused, having been tied up, assaulted, or injured. Defenders of zoophilia argue that animal abuse is neither typical of nor commonplace within zoophilia, and that just as sexual activity with humans can be both abusive and not, so can sexual activity with animals.
The Humane Society of the United States states categorically its belief that: "Not all cases of animal sexual abuse will involve physical injury to the animal, but all sexual molestation of an animal by a human is abuse."
Andrea M. Beetz, PhD. in her book "Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals" (2002) reports: "In most [popular] references to bestiality, violence towards the animal is automatically implied. That sexual approaches to animals may not need force or violence but rather, sensitivity, or knowledge of animal behavior, is rarely taken into consideration."
In comment on Peter Singer's article "Heavy Petting", which controversially argued that zoosexual activity need not be abusive and if so relationships could form which were mutually enjoyed, Ingrid Newkirk, then president of the American animal rights group PETA, added this endorsement: "If a girl gets sexual pleasure from riding a horse, does the horse suffer? If not, who cares? If you French kiss your dog and he or she thinks it's great, is it wrong? We believe all exploitation and abuse is wrong. If it isn't exploitation and abuse, [then] it may not be wrong."
A few years later, Newkirk wrote to the editor of the Canada Free Press in response to a column by Alexander Rubin, making clear that she was strongly opposed to any exploitation, and all sexual activity, with animals. This was necessary since some had sought to interpret her former statement as condoning zoosexual activity. Accordingly, the response was a clarification of her position regarding zoosexual acts, rather than a different response per se to Singer's actual philosophical point, namely "if it isn't exploitation and abuse [then is there any moral basis for objecting?]"
Dr. LaFarge, an assistant professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the New Jersey Medical School, who is the Director of Counseling at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and works with the New York correctional system, is quoted in a media article (1999) as reporting that:
It is also reported that:
Ernest Bornemann (1990, cited by Rosenbauer 1997) coined the separate term "zoosadism" for those who derive pleasure from inflicting pain on an animal, sometimes with a sexual component. Some extreme examples of zoosadism include necrozoophilia, the sexual enjoyment of killing animals (similar to "lust murder" in humans), sexual penetration of fowl such as hens (fatal in itself) and strangling at orgasm, mutilation, sexual assault with objects (including screwdrivers and knives), interspecies rape, and sexual assault on immature animals such as puppies. Some horse-ripping incidents have a sexual connotation (Schedel-Stupperich, 2001). The link between sadistic sexual acts with animals and sadistic practices with humans or lust murders has been heavily researched. Some murderers tortured animals in their childhood and also sexual relations with animals occurred. Ressler et al. (1986) found that 8 of their sample of 36 sexual murderers showed an interest in zoosexual acts. (Main article: Zoosadism)
Sexology information sites (if sufficiently detailed) are usually careful to distinguish zoosadism from zoophilia: Humboldt Berlin University Sexology Dept (list of paraphilias) sex-lexis.com and sexualcounselling.com
Prehistoric man probably was not bound by any self-image in regard to sexuality, and "was likely to have made many such attempts." In recorded history, "[b]estiality... existed as a rather widespread practice in all the nations of antiquity of which we have adequate records. Where it is not specifically mentioned, it may be legitimately inferred on the basis of the over-all evidence. It was often incorporated into religious ritual.
Some cultures, principally in the Far East and North America, were more open about sexuality than the West, whilst in others (for example herding and nomadic cultures in parts of Africa and the Middle East) it was considered a normal phase that most youths went through but adults usually outgrew. Several cultures built temples (Khajuraho, India) or other structures (Sagaholm, barrow, Sweden) with zoosexual carvings on the exterior.
In the West, the most explicit records of sex involving humans and animals activity are associated with reports of the murderous sadism, torture and rape of the Roman games and circus, in which some authors estimate that several hundreds of thousands died. Representations of scenes from the sexual lives of the gods, such as Pasiphaë and the Bull, were highly popular, often causing extreme suffering, injury or death. On occasion, the more ferocious beasts were permitted to kill and (if desired) devour their victims afterwards. Being sentenced to forcible sex by dogs and horses as a method of torturous punishment or execution also occurred in the Far East.
In the Church-oriented culture of the Middle Ages, zoosexual activity was met with execution, typically burning, and death to the animals involved either the same way or by hanging, as "both a violation of Biblical edicts and a degradation of man".
In the 18th century, the Age of Enlightenment took much that had been under the field of religion, and brought it under the field of science. As with homosexuality a variety of mixed views resulted which persisted through until around 1950, when researchers such as Kinsey followed by R.E.L. Masters began researching sexuality and sexually fringe topics (including zoophilia) on their own terms.
Defenders of zoophilia or zoosexuality state that:
They also assert that some of these arguments rely on double standards, such as expecting informed consent from animals for sexual activity (and not accepting consent given in their own manner), but not for surgical procedures including aesthetic mutilation and castration, potentially lethal experimentation and other hazardous activities, euthanasia, and slaughter. Likewise, if animals cannot give consent, then it follows that they must not have sex with each other (amongst themselves). [Also see: speciesism]
Critics of this reasoning state that animals can communicate internally (hence consent) within their own species, but cannot communicate cross-species. Others state that animal communication is clear and unambiguous cross-species as well.
In discussing arguments for and against zoosexual activity, the "British Journal of Sexual Medicine" commented over 30 years ago, "We are all supposed to condemn bestiality, though only rarely are sound medical or psychological factors advanced." (Jan/Feb 1974, p.43)
People's views appear to depend significantly upon the nature of their interest and nature of exposure to the subject. People who have been exposed to zoosadism, who are unsympathetic to alternate lifestyles in general, or who know little about zoophilia, often regard it as an extreme form of animal abuse and/or indicative of serious psychosexual issues. Mental health professionals and personal acquaintances of zoophiles who see their relationships over time tend to be less critical, and sometimes supportive. Ethologists who study and understand animal behaviour and body language, have documented animal sexual advances to human beings and other species, and tend to be matter-of-fact about animal sexuality and animal approaches to humans; their research is generally supportive of some of the claims by zoophiles regarding animal cognition, behaviour, and sexual/relational/emotional issues. Because the majority opinion is condemnatory, many individuals may be more accepting in private than they make clear to the public. Regardless, there is a general societal view which regards zoophilia with either suspicion or outright opposition.
From cave paintings onward and throughout human history, zoophilia has been a recurring subject in art, literature, and fantasy.
In Ugaritic mythology, the god Baal is said to have impregnated a heifer to sire a young bull god. In Greek mythology, Zeus appeared to Leda in the form of a swan, and her children Helen and Polydeuces resulted from that sexual union. Zeus also seduced Europa in the form of a bull, and carried off the youth Ganymede in the form of an eagle. The half-human/half-bull Minotaur was the offspring of Queen Pasiphaë and a white bull. King Peleus continued to seduce the nymph Thetis despite her transforming into (among other forms) a lion, a bird, and a snake. The god Pan, often depicted with goat-like features, has also been frequently associated with animal sex. As with other subjects of classical mythology, some of these have been depicted over the centuries since, in western painting and sculpture. In Norse mythology, Loki had intercourse with a stallion, in the form of a mare, and gave birth to Sleipnir. The Sagaholm, a Swedish barrow from the Nordic Bronze Age, contains a number of Petroglyphs, some of which depict Zoophilia.
Fantasy literature has included a variety of seemingly zoophilic examples, often involving human characters enchanted into animal forms: Beauty and the Beast (a young woman falls in love with a physically beast-like man), William Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream (Queen Titania falls in love with a character whose head is transformed into that of a donkey's), The Book of One Thousand and One Nights (a princess champions a man enchanted into ape form, among many other examples), the Roman Lucius Apuleius's The Golden Ass (explicit sexuality between a woman and a man who had been transformed into a donkey), and Balzac's A Passion in the Desert (a love affair between a soldier and a panther). In more modern times, zoosexual relations of a sort has been a theme in science fiction and horror fiction, with the giant ape King Kong fixating on a human woman, alien monsters groping human females in pulp novels and comics, and depictions of tentacle rape in Japanese manga and anime.
Modern erotic furry fantasy art and stories are sometimes associated with zoophilia, but many creators and fans disagree with this, pointing out that the characters are predominantly humanoid fantasy creatures who are thinking, reasoning beings that consider and consent to sex in the same manner humans would. "Furry" characters have been compared to other intelligent and social non-human fictional characters who are subjects of love/sexuality fantasies without being commonly regarded as zoophilic, such as the Vulcans and Klingons in Star Trek, or elves in fantasy fiction. Animals and anthropomorphs, when shown in furry art, are usually shown engaged with others of similar kind, rather than humans.
Because of its controversial standing, different countries and medias vary in how they treat discussion of zoosexual activity. Often sexual matters are the subject of legal or regulatory requirement. For example, in 2005, the UK broadcasting regulator (OFCOM) updated its code stating that:
The contrasting views between cultures are highlighted by the case of Omaha the Cat Dancer, a furry comic book, which was simultaneously the subject of a raid by Toronto police for pornographic depiction of bestiality (as noted, furry art is not usually considered "bestiality"), and the subject of praise by the (now defunct) New Zealand Indecent Publications Tribunal for its mature depiction of relationships and sexuality.
References to zoosexual activity or bestiality are not uncommon in some media, especially cartoon series such as Family Guy (episode: "Screwed the Pooch") and South Park (Recurring themes), satirical comedy such as Borat, and films (especially shock exploitation films), although a few broadcasters such as Howard Stern (who joked about bestiality dial-a-date on NBC) and Tom Binns (whose Xfm London Breakfast Show resulted on one occasion in a live discussion about the ethics of zoosexual pornographic movies at peak child listening time) have been reprimanded by their stations for doing so. In literature, American novelist Kurt Vonnegut refers to a photo of a woman attempting sexual intercourse with a Shetland Pony in The Sirens of Titan, Slaughterhouse Five, and God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater, while John Irving's novel The Cider House Rules repeatedly mentions a pornographic photograph depicting oral sex on a pony. In Clerks II Randal orders a donkey show as a going away present for his best friend Dante, in which it is referred to as "interspecies erotica" by the male performer.
Pornography involving sex with animals is widely illegal, even in most countries where the act itself is not explicitly outlawed. In the United States, zoosexual pornography (in common with other pornography) would be considered obscene if it did not meet the standards of the Miller Test and therefore is not openly sold, mailed, distributed or imported across state boundaries or within states which prohibit it. Under U.S. law, 'distribution' includes transmission across the internet. Production and mere possession appear to be legal, however. U.S. prohibitions on distribution of sexual or obscene materials are as of 2005 in some doubt, having been ruled unconstitutional in United States v. Extreme Associates (a judgement which was overturned on appeal, December 2005). Similar restrictions apply in Germany (see above). In New Zealand the possession, making or distribution of material promoting bestiality is illegal.
Using animal fur or stuffed animals in erotic photography doesn't seem to be taboo, nor do photographs of nude models posed with animals provided no sexual stimulation is implied to the animal. Stuffed animals are sometimes used in glamour erotic photography with models touching their sexual organs against such animals, and likewise models may be posed with animals or on horseback. The subtext is often to provide a contrast: animal versus sophisticated, raw beast versus culturally guided human. (Nancy Friday comments on this, noting that zoophilia as a fantasy may provide an escape from cultural expectations, restrictions, and judgements in regard to sex.)
The potential use of media for pornographic movies was seen from the start of the era of silent film. Polissons and Galipettes (re-released 2002 as "The Good Old Naughty Days") is a collection of early French silent films for brothel use, including some animal pornography, dating from around 1905 – 1930.
Material featuring sex with animals is widely available on the Internet, due to their ease of production, and because production and sale is legal in countries such as the Netherlands and Denmark. Prior to the advent of mass-market full-color glossy magazines such as Playboy, so-called Tijuana Bibles were a form of pornographic tract popular in America, sold as anonymous underground publications typically comprising a small number of stapled comic-strips representing characters and celebrities. The promotion of "stars" began with the Danish Bodil Joensen, in the period of 1969–72, along with other porn actors such as the Americans Linda Lovelace (Dogarama, 1969), Chessie Moore (multiple films, c. 1994), Kerri Downs (three films, 1998) and Calina Lynx (aka Kelly G'raffe) (two films, 1998). Another early film to attain great infamy was "Animal Farm", smuggled into Great Britain around 1980 without details as to makers or provenance. Into the 1980s the Dutch took the lead, creating figures like "Wilma" and the "Dutch Sisters". In 1980s, "bestiality" was featured in Italian adult films with actresses like Denise Dior, Francesca Ray, and Marina Hedman, manifested early in the softcore flick Bestialità in 1976.
Today, in Hungary, where production faces no legal limitations, zoosexual materials have become a substantial industry that produces numerous films and magazines, particularly for Dutch companies such as Topscore and Book & Film International, and the genre has stars such as "Hector" (a Great Dane starring in several films). Many Hungarian (Suzy Spark, Silvi Anderson et al) and Russian (Pantera aka Jordan Elliot, various girls filmed by Club Seventeen) mainstream performers also appeared anonymously in animal pornography in their early careers.
In Japan, animal pornography is used to bypass censorship laws, often featuring Japanese and Russian female models performing fellatio on non-human animals, because oral penetration of a non-human penis is not in the scope of Japanese mosaic censor. Sakura Sakurada is an AV idol known to have appeared in animal pornography, specifically in the AV The Dog Game in 2006. Brazil is also a substantial producer of animal pornography, many films featuring "she-males". While primarily underground, there are a number of animal pornography actresses who specialize in bestiality movies. A box-office success of the 1980s, 24 Horas de Sexo Explícito, with Mexican pornstar Juanita Chong featured zoophilia.
The UK Government has announced plans to criminalise possession of images depicting sex with animals (see extreme pornography), which would include fake images and simulated acts, as well as images depicting sex with dead animals, where no crime has taken place in the production.
Prior to the arrival of widespread computer networking, most zoophiles would not have known others, and for the most part engaged secretly, or told only trusted friends, family or partners. (This almost certainly still describes the majority of zoophiles; only a small proportion are visible online). Thus it could not be said there was a "community" of any kind at that time, except perhaps for small sporadic social networks of people who knew each other by chance. As with many other alternate lifestyles, broader networks began forming in the 1980s when networked social groups became more common at home and elsewhere, and as the internet and its predecessors came into existence, permitting people to search for topics and information in areas which were not otherwise easily accessible and to talk with relative safety and anonymity. The popular (top 1%) newsgroup alt.sex.bestiality (reputedly started in humor), personal bulletin boards and talkers, were among the first group media of this kind in the late 1980s and early 1990s, rapidly drawing together zoophiles, some of whom also created personal and social websites and forums. By around 1991–1993 it became accurate to say that a wide social net had evolved.
This changed significantly around 1995-96 (due to the double impact of Miletski's research and the unrelated mid/late-1990s boom in zoosexual pornography), and then a few years later again around 1998–2000 in the wake of the controversy over the first proposed public US appearance of a zoophile on the Jerry Springer show ("I married a horse", 1998, pulled before viewing), which was followed by the 1999-2000 Philip Buble case (in which a plaintiff petitioned the court to let his dog attend judgement as his "wife"). Whilst some zoophiles saw these as attempts to state a personal viewpoint or encourage debate, others saw them in a negative light as ill-advised, futile, harmful, or ultimately egoistic attempts to obtain a public hearing which could only backlash strongly both legally and otherwise against zoophiles. There was also a perception that as knowledge of zoosexuality as a lifestyle became wider spread, the smaller but more formative social groups were being diluted by large numbers of newcomers who had not grown up within the same "culture" or communal values, and many website owners came to be less interested compared to the past. In 1996, a zoophile version of the Geek Code was created, known as the Zoo Code, intended as a shorthand "signature" for zoophiles to describe themselves, their philosophies, and their stances on certain common issues such as animal welfare and vegetarianism. It achieved some degree of popularity for a time and is still occasionally encountered today, having also been translated into French and German.
In the wake of these changes, a number of the older pro-zoophile websites and forums were voluntarily removed or vanished from the net between 1995 and 2001, and many of the more established individuals and social groups at that time withdrew from the online community, perceiving the risks and benefits to no longer be worth it, as they already had sufficient offline friends amongst other zoophiles. This led to a period of change and consolidation during the late 1990s and early 2000s as old sites closed and the older and newer 'generations' mingled. Most of the major "talkers" faded and closed too, especially following the increasing popularity of instant messaging and an incident on "Planes of Existence" (Germany, 2000). At the same time, many other social groups online drew lessons from these and other incidents, leading to a maturing consensus which tended to replace the previous divides on common topics such as the desirability vs. harmfulness of public debate and acceptance, ethics, and conduct.
Websites catering to zoosexuality at present can be broken down into several categories. Some sites restrict or prohibit explicit material (such as pictures, stories, contacts, etc), while others embrace these explicit aspects. Some zoophilic websites are run by professional or amateur pornographers, marketing pictures, stories and videos. A few provide personal perspectives and information relating to it.
There also exist sites providing support and social assistance to zoophiles (including resources to help and rescue abused or mistreated animals), but these are not usually publicized. Such work is often undertaken as needed by individuals and friends, within social networks, and by word of mouth.
| Human sexuality|
and sexual orientation
|Ethics, morality and philosophy|