TheRichest isn't known to shy away from courting controversy. In the spirit of that grand tradition, let's take a look at a natural physiological phenomenon so commonplace and almost universally recognized by the scientific community that only the reddest of Red States could possibly take issue with it. That phenomenon is, of course, homosexuality in the animal kingdom.
Despite what the GOP and the empathetically challenged of the world would have you believe, homosexuality is not an aberrant lifestyle choice made by confused college students and weak-willed individuals brainwashed by Hollywood and the liberal media. It's not an epidemic; you can't catch gay by riding in a Prius or watching Glee.
Although it doesn't occur with the same frequency as heterosexuality - and if it did, life on this planet would have evolved very differently - homosexuality in the natural world is by no means rare. The trait has been observed in hundreds of animal species, ranging from fruit flies to killer whales to American Idol runners-up. Humans aren't always kind to their gay brothers and sisters. Fortunately, in the animal kingdom, everyone's too busy trying to kill everyone else to pay much attention to what those two boy dogs are doing to each other in the corner.
Speaking of boy dogs going at it, enjoy these other gay animals.
(*Editor's Note: If the content of this article offends you to your moral core, be on the lookout for the Tea Party-approved version, "The 15 Animals You Meet on the Path to Hell.")
15 Black Swans
The black swan is a large migratory bird native to Australia and New Zealand. The species as a whole is generally monogamous, with breeding pairs staying together until death. A full 25% of swan couples, however, are homosexual.
These couplings almost always comprise two males stealing nests from female swans and raising the the hatchlings on their own. Male-male black swan pairs typically exhibit much higher success rates in rearing their young, most likely due to the presences of an additional male to protect the family.
14 American Buffalo
Ahh, the majestic buffalo. Cattle's weird-looking, hunchbacked cousins have long roamed the vast prairies of the western United States and Canada, providing much needed meat, tools, and mild amusement to native peoples for millennia. Buffalo - or bison, if you want to get technical - once numbered in the tens of millions before seeing their numbers reduced dramatically by the most dangerous creatures of all: white men with guns.
In the last 120 years, their numbers have rebounded somewhat from all-time lows in the triple digits to the several hundred thousand individuals that currently make their home on the range. All this is no thanks to the increasing amount of bull-on-bull bison love that researchers have been documenting in the last few decades. Biologists hypothesize that the increase in homosexuality among bison is due either to social bonding or just good old-fashioned sexual experimentation.
Male giraffes, like male everything, are not above putting on the occasional overt display of dominance. Like male humans, dude giraffes respond to challenges to their authority by ramping the testosterone levels up to eleven. Unlike humans, however, this almost always involves copious amounts of necking, followed by mounting and, for good measure, climax.
The term "necking," however, does not have the same meaning as it does in the context of human behavior. When two male giraffes are necking, they are flat out wailing on each other, slamming their 6-foot-long necks into one another until one of them finally concedes the fight. The victor then takes as his prize the defeated giraffe. As barbaric as it sounds, everything appears more or less consensual, and the two just agree to never again speak of what happened. It seems to work for them, although trips to the local watering hole can be exceedingly awkward.
Vultures often get a bad rap in popular culture and only the douchiest people would consider being called one a compliment. But their unsavory reputations are mostly unearned. Vultures rarely bother humans, are vital components of their ecosystems, and are loving and protective parents, to boot. In fact, vultures are such devoted animals that if they can't find a suitable mate of the opposite sex, they'll usually shack up with another bird of the same gender.
One of the most famous examples of same sex vulture pairing was Dashik and Yehuda, two adult male griffon vultures at a zoo in Israel. The pair built a nest together and tried valiantly to produce an egg for it. Eventually, zookeepers were able to fool the vultures into raising a surrogate vulture chick. Dashik and Yehuda we such successful parents that they successfully reared another adopted chick several years later.
As you can probably imagine, researching this section was somewhat problematic, as "gay bears" can mean a number of things. In the animal kingdom, non-human bears have been frequently observed engaging in homosexual activity.
Unlike many of the other species on this list, homosexuality in bears has only been observed in captive animals, and usually only in those animals housed in substandard conditions. Nevertheless, two male bears in a reputable (read: non substandard) Croatian zoo have been known to repeatedly perform fellatio on one another, once racking up an impressive 28 separate sex acts in a five day span.
Researchers hypothesize that they bears resort to fellatio because they were orphaned at a young age, thereby interrupting their natural suckling instincts. Without a mother to nurse from, the bears simply found the next best thing (no pun intended).
Thus far this article has mostly focused on male homosexuality in the animal kingdom. It's time for the ladies to shine. Bonobos, a species of great ape closely related to both chimpanzees and humans, are rare in that they are entirely bisexual. Sexual contact between bonobos is just as likely to be of the homo variety as it is hetero.
In fact, bonobos have the highest rate of homosexual contact of any species on earth (excluding unicorns, the gayest of all animals). Scientists think bonobos use sex as a means of conflict avoidance. For example, if one female strikes another, rather than duking it out or passive-aggressively talking behind each others' backs, they'll get together and just start rubbing each other. By the time they're done, no one can remember why they were so angry and everything goes back to normal.
Male mallards aren't very nice. Once his mate has laid her eggs, he immediately abandons her to go out trolling for strange.
If willing partners can't be found, he forces himself on unwilling females. Mallards are the sexual predators of the animal kingdom. In fact, mallards are so intent on sexually aggressing, they don't much care about the gender of their victims, or even whether they're alive.
One scientist observed a male mallard who chased his unwilling male would-be partner into a glass door. The unlucky duck died immediately. His pursuer, however, was unfazed and what followed was one of the only instances of homosexual necrophilia ever observed in the animal kingdom.
Same sex coupling has been observed many different times in several different species of penguins and, apes and a few other mammal species notwithstanding, penguins have one of the highest rates of homosexuality in the natural world.
Arguably the most famous example of gay penguins occurred in New York's Central Park Zoo, where male chinstrap penguins Roy and Silo partnered up intent on raising a few kids. Their first attempt was a disaster, mostly because the egg they were trying to hatch turned out to be a rock. Eventually, zookeepers intervened and let them try with an egg that another penguin couple had been unable to hatch. Roy and Silo were successful this time and raised a chick named Tango.
Their story was so heartwarming that it inspired the children's book And Tango Makes Three, and the world predictably lost its shit at the glorification of the so-called aberrant homosexual lifestyle. Silo apparently couldn't take the stress of being a civil rights icon and he subsequently left Roy for a nice lady penguin named Scrappy. Roy currently lives the bachelor life with a group of similarly unattached males.
The king of the jungle; it's a romantic notion, one which conjures images of power, ruthlessness, and uncompromising masculinity. Throughout the ages, kings and peasants alike have looked upon the lion as a paragon of courage and strength. Lions have graced countless sigils and crests, adorned flags flown in battle and atop the mightiest castles, and lent their likeness to mythology, art, and religion. In short, we as humans think lions are just aces. But, like our childhood heroes, lions have done very little to earn our everlasting devotion.
Which brings us to our point: lions in real life are very different from how they're depicted in popular culture. Take their mating habits, for example. If The Lion King has taught us anything, it's that one powerful male rules over everything the light touches, with a harem of subservient lionesses at his beck and call.
In actuality, lions are lazy as shit. They sleep all day, let the women do all the work, and engage in all manner of sexual debauchery whenever the need strikes (we're beginning to see why men have always idolized these noble creatures). Many male lions, before they reach sexual maturity, form sexual bonds with other males, snuggling and caressing each other. These tender moments often lead to full on mounting and thrusting, which, had that been depicted on medieval battle flags, would have drastically changed the meaning of the phrase "beard the lion."
Dolphins are some of the most intelligent animals on the planet. They're also some of the most social, forming tight-knit pods that stay together for years on end, providing each other protection, feeding opportunities, and apparently a fair amount of same-sex boning. Homosexual interactions have been observed in nearly all dolphin species, but the phenomenon is best studied in bottlenose dolphins.
Same sex copulation occurs frequently among both genders, with all manner of rubbings and insertions going on. Scientists think that the preponderance of homosexual activity, particularly among adolescent and young adult dolphins, strengthens bonds throughout the pod which can be beneficial to the species later on. Their reasoning is that you're more likely to defend someone you've been intimate with from outside aggressors than you would a stranger. It's hard to argue with that.
Pigeons are filthy, disease-ridden vectors of pestilence and misfortune and if you ever pass up an opportunity to spit on one, babies and nuns will take turns hurling unimaginable obscenities at you while they curse your parents for raising such a troglodytic monster. That's how horrible they are.
Character issues aside, however, pigeons, like all of us, need love, too. And, as it turns out, they're not all that picky about where that love comes from. Pigeons have a very high rate of same sex coupling, occurring about equally among both males and females. Females, or hens if you're feeling pedantic, have even been known to lay and incubate eggs even when they partner with other females. Of course, without male pigeons, or cocks if you're feeling daring, the eggs remain unfertilized and never hatch. But, still, A for effort!
Most of the animals on this list thus far have been known to exhibit homosexual behavior only during certain stages of their sexual development. Sheep, on the other hand, seem to display true homosexual orientation. As in, all the time. Anywhere from 8-10% of rams are exclusively homosexual.
No matter how hot a lady sheep is, a gay ram won't give her the time of the day. In fact, same sex ram couples will eschew the advances of ewes in heat so that they can escape to the hills and mate with each other. It's evolutionarily futile, of course, but they seem to get a kick out of it.
3 Japanese Macaques
Japanese macaques are those red-faced monkeys you always see in National Geographic photos hanging out in natural hot springs in the snow. And, if movies and life have taught us anything, it's that red-faced dudes that hang out in hot tubs know how to party, if little else. The Japanese macaque is no exception. During mating season, females of the species often resort to mounting each other, likely due to an excess of hormones and a dearth of quality humping-males.
Males similarly engage in same sex mounting, but with neither the frequency nor the enthusiasm shown by the females. Once the mating season is over, the males go about their business as usual, while the females often form tight, albeit platonic, bonds with their sexy gal pals.
2 Spotted Hyenas
Most people know very little about hyenas, other than the fact that they're painfully ugly and they laugh uncontrollably if you whisper the word "Mufasa" in their ear. Hyenas look like Ray Charles gave the misshapen offspring of a retarded lion and an inbred dog a haircut on a boat. But despite their revolting appearance, hyenas are highly intelligent, socially advanced pack animals that are impressively adapted for survival. Dating back to Ancient Rome, hyenas have been associated with perverse sexual behavior, deformity, and the occult.
This gross mischaracterization likely stems from the female hyena's unique genitals, which protrude outward from their bodies and closely resemble the male hyena's penis. Combine this with the fact that female hyenas are typically larger than males and far more sexually aggressive, and it's easy to see why early writers thought hyenas were all hermaphrodites, hence the negative (and unjust) connotations. Female hyenas are, however, naturally bisexual and they usually vent their sexual aggression by mounting more submissive females.
Elephants are the world's largest land animals and, with such baked-in notoriety, they're no strangers to copious amounts of scientific observation. Among the most important aspects of elephant behavior that has been observed over the years is, without a doubt, the fact that elephants can urinate up to 45 gallons of pee at a time!
In addition to you various Val Kilmer-related pee statistics, scientists also noticed a relatively high degree of same sex fondling going on, particularly in captivity.
This sexual contact was mainly observed in male couples, and generally consisted of rubbing, caressing, kissing (who knew elephants kissed?), and the occasional mounting. Curiously, this behavior is far more common in Asian elephants than in their African cousins, with nearly half of all observed sexual encounters occurring between members of the same sex. Again, scientists aren't exactly sure what's going on, but the safest bet is that it has something to do with social bonding.