Animal charm? A new classification of zoophiles

At the end of 2011, Dr Anil Aggrawal (Maulana Azad Medical College, New Delhi, India) published an interesting paper on zoophilia in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. Aggrawal has been writing about various paraphilic behaviours for over a decade and has carved out a productive niche in creating new paraphilic taxonomies (one of which I briefly mentioned in a blog I wrote on necrophilia).

His latest paper outlines a new classification of zoophilia that I thought I would take a brief look at as it includes behaviours that I have looked at in previous blogs (e.g., zoosadism and furry fandom). Aggrawal’s rationale for developing a new zoophile typology was rooted in his view that current terminologies that describe various zoophilic acts “are at best vague and are not used universally in the same sense” by researchers working in the field of zoophilia. For instance, Aggrawal notes that there is a multiplicity of different terms that often describe slightly different aspects when a person has a sexual relationship with an animal (e.g., zoophilia, zoophilism, zooerasty, zooerastia, bestiality and bestiosexuality). Aggrawal’s new taxonomy describes ten different types of zoophile (Classes I to X Zoosexuals, presented below) and is based on both the empirical/clinical literature, and informed theoretical speculation.

Class I zoosexuals: This type comprises humananimal role-players. These individuals never have sex with actual animals but become sexually aroused through wanting to have sex with humans who pretend to be animals. This appears include members of the furry fandom and subsumes those individuals who engage in these pseudo-zoophilic acts (e.g., pet play, pony play, ponyism or pup-play). According to Aggrawal, those individuals that participate in human-animal role-play involve one person taking on the role of a real or imaginary animal in character, including appropriate mannerisms and behaviour. Outside the world of furries, Aggrawal claims that human-animal role-play is sometimes used in sadomasochistic contexts (involving bondage and domination) where the partner is reduced to the status of an animal.

Class II zoosexuals: This type comprises romantic zoophiles. Aggrawal claims this type of zoophile keeps animals as pets as a way to get psychosexually stimulated without actually having any kind of sexual contact with them. This appears to be a theoretical type of zoophile as I have never come across any cases in the clinical literature that would be classed as this particular type.

Class III zoosexuals: This type comprises those individuals that Aggrawal describes as zoophilic fantasizers. Aggrawal claims these people fantasize about having sexual intercourse with animals but – like Classes I and II – do not actually have sex with animals. It is claimed that this type of zoophile may masturbate in the presence of animals (although Aggrawal provides no evidence of such people actually existing). Aggrawal claims that zoophilic voyeurs and zoophilic exhibitionists are subsumed within this particular zoophilic type.

Class IV zoosexuals: This type comprises tactile zoophiles who get sexual excitement from touching, stroking or fondling an animal or their genitals but do not actually have sex with the animal. Aggrawal claims that some tactile zoophiles engage in zoophilic frotteurism, and that for sexual pleasure rub their genitals against animals. Again, Aggrawal presents no empirical evidence for the existence of such people.

Class V zoosexuals: This type comprises what Aggrawal calls fetishistic zoophiles. These individuals keep various animal parts (especially fur) that they then use as an erotic stimulus as a crucial part of their sexual activity. Such individuals have been reported in the clinical literature including the case of a woman (reported in a 1990 issue of the American Journal of Forensic Medical Pathology) who used the tongue of a deer as her primary masturbatory aid.

Class VI zoosexuals: This type comprises sadistic bestials where the source of sexual arousal comes from the torturing of animals (i.e., zoosadism) but does not involve sexual intercourse with the animal. There has been quite a lot of evidence in the empirical literature that such zoophilic activity exists (and which I reviewed in a previous blog).

Class VII zoosexuals: This type comprises opportunistic zoosexuals who have normal sexual encounters but as Aggrawal argues would not refrain from having sexual intercourse with animals if the opportunity arose. Aggrawal claims that such behaviour occurs most often in incarcerated or stranded persons, or when the person sees an opportunity to have sex with an animal when they are sure no-one else is present (e.g., farmhands). Aggraval claims that opportunistic zoosexuals have no emotional attachment to animals despite having sex with them.

Class VIII zoosexuals: This type comprises regular zoosexuals (the  “classic” zoophiles as Aggrawal calls them). These individuals prefer sex with animals than sex with humans (but are capable of having sex with both). Such zoophiles will engage in a wide range of sexual activities with animals (e.g., masturbation, oral sex, vaginal sex, anal sex). These people love animals at an emotional level, and have sex as part of a loving relationship. Aggrawal also includes a subclass within this category called “regular zoophilia by proxy”. Here, Aggrawal described cases of men who forced their wives to be vaginally penetrated by dogs for their own sexual satisfaction.

Class IX zoosexuals: This type comprises homicidal bestials who need to kill animals in order to have sex with them (i.e., necrozoophiles). Although capable of having sex with living animals, there is an insatiable desire to have sex with dead animals. Reports of such behaviour have been noted in the literature (such as the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer who I commented on in my blog on zoosadsism).

Class X zoosexuals: This type comprises what Aggrawal refers to exclusive zoosexuals. These are individuals who only have sex with animals to the exclusion of human sexual partners (i.e., those identified in the clinical literature as zooerasts).

Aggrawal claims that his new classification may help in treating such people. He says that the zoosexuals in Classes I to V may be treated by simple behavior modification techniques whereas zoosexuals in Classes 6 and above need more rigorous treatment (e.g., pharmacological interventions). Only time will tell whether this new taxonomy is adopted by the field but the classification does seem to have overall face validity even if a few of the classes are theoretical rather than actual.

Dr Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies, International Gaming Research Unit, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK

Further reading

Aggrawal, A. (2011). A new classification of zoophilia. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine, 18, 73-78.

Bartmann, C.P. & Wohlsein, P. (2002). Injuries caused by outside violence with forensic importance in horses. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr, 109, 112-115.

Beetz, Andrea (2002). Love, Violence, and Sexuality in Relationships between Humans and Animals. Germany: Shaker Verlag.

Miletski, H. (2001). Zoophilia – implications for therapy. Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 26, 85–89.

Randall, M.B., Vance, R.P., McCalmont, T.H. (1990). Xenolingual autoeroticism. American Journal of Forensic and Medical Pathology, 11, 89-92.

Schedel-Stupperich, A. (2002). [Criminal acts against horses – phenomenology and psychosocial construct]. Dtsch Tierarztl Wochenschr, 109, 116-119.

Williams, C. J., & Weinberg, M. S. (2003). Zoophilia in men: A study of sexual interest in animals. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 32, 523–535.

About drmarkgriffiths

Professor MARK GRIFFITHS, BSc, PhD, CPsychol, PGDipHE, FBPsS, FRSA, AcSS. Dr. Mark Griffiths is a Chartered Psychologist and Professor of Behavioural Addiction at the Nottingham Trent University, and Director of the International Gaming Research Unit. He is internationally known for his work into gambling and gaming addictions and has won many awards including the American 1994 John Rosecrance Research Prize for “outstanding scholarly contributions to the field of gambling research”, the 1998 European CELEJ Prize for best paper on gambling, the 2003 Canadian International Excellence Award for “outstanding contributions to the prevention of problem gambling and the practice of responsible gambling” and a North American 2006 Lifetime Achievement Award For Contributions To The Field Of Youth Gambling “in recognition of his dedication, leadership, and pioneering contributions to the field of youth gambling”. His most recent award is the 2013 Lifetime Research Award from the US National Council on Problem Gambling. He has published over 600 research papers, four books, over 130 book chapters, and over 1000 other articles. He has served on numerous national and international committees (e.g. BPS Council, BPS Social Psychology Section, Society for the Study of Gambling, Gamblers Anonymous General Services Board, National Council on Gambling etc.) and is a former National Chair of Gamcare. He also does a lot of freelance journalism and has appeared on over 2000 radio and television programmes since 1988. In 2004 he was awarded the Joseph Lister Prize for Social Sciences by the British Association for the Advancement of Science for being one of the UK’s “outstanding scientific communicators”. His awards also include the 2006 Excellence in the Teaching of Psychology Award by the British Psychological Society and the British Psychological Society Fellowship Award for “exceptional contributions to psychology”.

Posted on April 30, 2012, in Compulsion, Obsession, Paraphilia, Psychiatry, Psychology, Sex, Sex addiction and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Treating them? That is laughable at best. Zoosexuality cannot be successfully treated, only repressed and driven underground due to shame and fear tactics which in turn may do more harm than good.

    It is an informative article though.

  2. its nice to know we can be so easily classified put into our respective puzzle slots. god knows most of us do need help but have you stopped to consider maybe we are happier not being part of your mainstream media driven society where sex is a requirement to survive ? i know you can think of thousands of reasons why we are “gross” or “mentally ill” but to realize that you have such an in depth curiousity in us that you have taken the time to classify us and to think up ways to change our form of thinking as much where one day we may all find vaginas and penises attractive is sick maybe there isn’t a god but i would like to imagine in some minor sense at least that we were made to be perfect in a specific light not drugged until our views change scared of who we are until we hide behind masks families and children avoiding animals at any cost god forbid someone notice your eyes lingering over them, i am not ashamed to be a zoophiliac (class x according to you those who imagine themselves clear enough to judge us) i am however ashamed that when people see such a simplistic happiness that they look for any flaw claim mental illness call us names make us fear the light of day.

    • Hi Philip. Thanks fot your comment. I just want to say that the classification of zoophiles is not mine (but Anil Aggrawal’s) and all I am doing is reporting on it. Best wishes. Mark

    • Global Radio Doc Joe

      Hi Philip,
      I hope you are well

      I work for a production company has been commissioned to create a radio show on taboos which will be available for download worldwide. We are currently looking for participants to share their thoughts and experiences of zoophilia to develop a better understanding.

      A point I’d like to stress initially is that any involvement with this project will subject to strict anonymity for all participants. Being an audio exclusive platform, readers may feel relieved to hear there will be no cameras or visual recording equipment involved.

      I was wondering whether you, or anyone you may know, would be interested in being part of the show and perhaps discussing further?

      If you’re interested, please feel free to email me here –

      Kind Regards,


  3. Why speak of treatment for something that isn´t a disease? I´m amazed that modern professionals still are brainwashed by the idea that alternative sexual orientations must be an illness of the mind.

    I´m fully aware that it´s not normal to be a zoophile, but normality is just a measure of an amount in a population. All it says is that a majority of individuals have this or that trait (like heteosexuality) and that individuals with different traits (like homosexuality or zoophilia) are not as many (a minority). It does however NOT tell us the quality of life (or level of sanity) of those who belong to a minority. To be able to say that zoophilia is a disease of the mind, that needs treatment, one must clinically prove it, and that have not yet been done. Symtoms like depression, anxiety, social problems and so on are not caused by the zoophilia itself, but rather by the way “normal” people and society treats them. It´s called stigmatization, and it´s a common problem in many fields, not only sexuality.

    Even if the zoophile never touches an animal, the stigma of being an outcast can cause severe anxiety and will more than likely lead to social problems. If it comes to that, it doesn´t really matter which type of zoophie one belongs to as the society doesn´t discriminate. All zoophiles are seen upon as disturbed perverts. Why? Because they are told so by professionals who rely on old psychological theories from long gone psychologists (like Freud). The problem is not that they were influenced by religion or the politics of their time, but that we still use them indiscriminately in the education of new psychologists and other similar professions. No wonder progress is slow.

    The solution is simple really. Stop treat alternative sexual orientations as diseases and give them the same respect and legal rights as heterosexuals (or better actually, as not even all aspects of heterosexuality are treated well). Harmful practises (like those commited by zoosadists) can still be illegal. Then I think the need for treatment (of the symtoms mentioned earlier) will lessen considerably.

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