Bestiality: Hidden Facts About the Sexual Abuse of Nonhumans
An Animal Rights Article from


Marc Bekoff, Psychology Today / Animal Emotions
February 2018

A summary about what is known about humans having sex with animals is shocking.

The phrase "animal lover" has many different meanings

Because of my interest in different types of human-animal interactions, I have to read extremely disturbing material on zoophilia and bestiality. The two words refer to different sorts of human-nonhuman sexual behavior, zoophilia describing "a human being who is sexually aroused or inspired by an animal" and bestiality to "to the act of a human having sex with a non-human animal. The sexual activities may or may not involve penetration, but they are sexual behaviors done for gratification." For more discussion, please see Cory Silverberg's recently published essay "What Is the Difference Between Bestiality and Zoophilia?" in which he notes:

The easiest way to distinguish bestiality and zoophilia is to say that bestiality is a practice -- it's something people do. Zoophilia is a preference or experience, something people feel. Not everyone who engages in bestiality is a zoophile, and not all people who identify or would be classified as having zoophilia actually have sex with animals. Another important distinction to make is that only having erotic feelings or fantasies involving animals is not against the law, whereas in many places, having sexual relations with a non-human animal is illegal.

People often use zoophilia and bestiality synonymously, but they do refer to different aspects of human-animal sexual behavior, and bestiality might be easier to stop than zoophilia.

"Zoophilia: A Hidden Horror for Animals"

I just learned of an essay by Daniel Antolec called "Zoophilia: A Hidden Horror for Animals," available online, that's an easy but disturbing and shocking read. I know many readers will wish they never read it, but the facts need to be aired widely so people can take appropriate action to stop these heinous acts. Here are some snippets and facts to whet your appetite for reading Mr. Antolec's piece and sharing it widely. Of course, people can choose not to read or share it if it's too difficult to get through and they don't want to expose others to these most troublesome data.

In two hours of testimony I learned of a hidden network of animal sex offenders who communicate in online chat rooms. According to HSUS at any given time 900-1,000 bestiality networks are communicating, exchanging tips and trading animals. They call themselves “zoos” and one group has over one million members.

On April 15, 2015 Reuters reported on bestiality in Denmark and cited a 2011 Justice Ministry report that found 17% of veterinarians suspected a human had sex with an animal they treated.

An expert on animal sexual abuse, M. Jenny Edwards offers sobering data to consider. [Ms. Edwards' website is called "Animal Sexual Abuse Information & Resources" and notes, "WARNING! This site contains graphic images and content." You can also find more discussion about zoophilia and bestiality in Dr. Jessica Pierce's book Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets and in Dr. Karen Davis' essay Interspecies Sexual Assault: A Moral Perspective.]

56% of male sex offenders, 55% of female sex offenders, 38% of child sex offenders, and 11% of rapists reports having sexually abused an animal.

29% of inmates arrested for pornography-related offenses collected animal porn as well as child porn. 25% of men who viewed adult pornography online also viewed animal porn.

6% of juvenile male offenders admitted to sexual contact with an animal.

35% of arrests for bestiality also involve child sexual abuse or exploitation. In addition, nearly 40% of offenders have prior criminal records for bestiality, child sexual abuse, domestic violence, battery, adult rape, substance abuse, trespass, public indecency, even murder.

One important point that many people including Mr. Silverberg makes is that nonhumans can't offer consent, so the sexual acts cannot be consensual. He concludes, "Since there is no way of knowing for sure what an animal is thinking or feeling, my position is that it's not possible to confirm consent and therefore it is not ethical to have sex with non-human animals."

I'll leave it to you to do whatever you can to put an end to zoophilia and bestiality. Of course, it may be more difficult to put an end to zoophilia, but putting an end to bestiality should be easier if laws are established to prevent it. Mr. Antolec's essay focuses on such efforts in Wisconsin.

Return to Animal Rights Articles