After my post about a couple of male lions, the question of what should be considered as sexuality or sexual behaviour under animals elvoves. The criteria seen by some biologists reveal an androcentric view. For example another argument from the previously mentioned expert Craig Packer was that there is no sign of ejaculation or even penetration during the act. If these are suitable criteria, it excludes all female animals from having same sex relationships or behaviour. That illustrates the androcentrism. Moreover we can easily think of behaviour that we would intuitivly think of as a behaviour that reveals something about the sexual orientation of somebody even if there is no penetrative act. One example here is a famous pair of two male vultures who incubated an egg together. I do not think that it is a coincidence that we again consider a “gay” couple again instead of two “lesbian” animals. I take it as another proof of androcentrism that a couple of male animals is more likely to appear in the media than a couple of two females. But in this case nobody speaks of penetration and the vultures are still discribed as living in a longterm homosexual relationship. The two vultures named Dashik and Jehuda are living together in a zoo in Jerusalem. Although they were not able to lay eggs themselves they build a nest together. Luckily for them the zoologists made the decision to give a fake egg to Dashik and Jehuda. After watching them for some weeks taking care of it, they replaced it with a newborn chick. According to the zoologists they raised it by the highest standards. Not in one single article I found was in question wether the two vultures were really gay, at it was with the lions all the time. Only one article wrote that they were mating, which could be seen as proof but is still very vague. I think the reason is that sexuality is seen as above all linked to reproduction and succesfully building a family. That the vultures managed to bring up a chick gives them some sort of legitimation. One article told the reader, that gay vulture couples play an important role in breeding programs, because vultures often lay to eggs from which only one survives. The other one can survive too, if given to a gay couple. And finally the most powerful argument: It is more natural to let two male vultures raise a vulture chick than the remaining possibility, which is that the chick would be raised by humans. Obviously the attempt to to everything as naturally as possible does not stop us from transfering our values and culture on animal behaviour. We are only able to see them trough our cultural glasses. Some years after Dashik and Jehuda raised a second vulture Jehuda left Dashik and „fell in love“ with a female Vulture. But we are very quick to conclude that Jehuda was falsly classified. Obviously he can not be gay, he has to be bisexual. Would it not be easier to accept that animals just do not think in these categories and therefore do not fit them? Coming back to the opening question, sexuality and sexual behaviour is discribed differently in this story than in the articles about the two lions. In discourses about the sexuality of animals, cultural and biological terms are blended in a misleading way.

References

http://www.focus.de/wissen/experten/ludwig/kuriose-vaeter-im-tierreich-warum-schwule-geier-so-wichtig-fuer-die-arterhaltung-sind_id_4167452.html

http://www.thefrisky.com/photos/10-animals-with-bisexual-tendencies/bisexual-animals-griffon-vulture-jpg/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/gay-vulture-couple-raise-surrogate-chicks-1110120.html

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