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Mating glances: A brief look at faunoiphilia

According to Dr. Anil Aggrawal’s 2009 book Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices, faunoiphilia is a sexual paraphilia in which individuals derive sexual pleasure and arousal from watching animals mate. Dr. Aggrawal notes that faunoiphilia is therefore a form of zoophilic voyeurism and can also be referred to as mixoscopic zoophilia. At the end of 2011, Dr Aggrawal published a new zoophilia typology in the Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine (and which I examined in a previous blog). In this typology, Aggrawal classed zoophiles into one of ten different types (Class I to Class X).

In this typology, faunoiphiles come under Class III and comprises individuals that Aggrawal describes as zoophilic fantasizers. Aggrawal claims these people fantasize about having sexual intercourse with animals but do not actually have sex with animals. He claims that this type of zoophile may masturbate in the presence of animals, and that both zoophilic voyeurs and zoophilic exhibitionists are subsumed within this particular zoophilic type. Prior to this paper, R.E.L. Masters in his 1962 book Forbidden Sexual Behavior and Morality also noted that interest in and sexual excitement at watching animals mate may be an indicator of latent zoophilia.

There is clearly a difference between being interested in and watching animals mate, and being sexually aroused by such behaviour. For instance, while researching a blog on arachnophilia (individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from spiders), I came across the fact that the orb spider has a detachable penis. I mention this because in the same article it mentioned that the Argonaut octopus also has a detachable penis that actually separates and swims over to the female. I would certainly like to see this – but obviously not for sexual pleasure. While researching my blog on delphinophilia (individuals who derive sexual pleasure and arousal from dolphins), I read that dolphins’ penises are major sense organs, used to feel out objects. Again, this is something I would like to see but not for sexual pleasure. (If you’re really interested in the world’s weirdest animal penises then check out the online article published in an October issue of The Week).

Almost all online references to faunoiphilia simply mention a one-line definition without any further discussion. There are also some websites that provide a paragraph or two on the morality of the behaviour and/or the author’s own personal view without reference to any ‘fact’ or reference to anything published in the clinical or academic literature (such as the short article on Maddy’s Mansion website). In fact, this paragraph I am writing now would be classed along with those I am complaining about as being essentially ‘content free’! However, there are a few exceptions. The online Urban Dictionary also describes faunoiphilia, as a sexual paraphilia and a type of zoophilic voyeurism. It has a more detailed definition than most other academic definitions I have come across and notes:

“[Faunoiphilia] is sexual arousal from watching animals copulate. Arousal from faunoiphilia may be intensified if the animals mating are different in size, age, species, or a combination of the three. It may also be intensified if the sexual organs of one or both animals can be seen. Animals of faunoiphilia interest include, but are not limited to horses, dogs, dolphins, and various rodents

Given the distinct lack of empirical evidence on faunoiphilia, I am unsure as to where the claims made have come from although I cannot refute any of the assertions made. Similarly, the online Nation Master encyclopedia also describes a variety of different types of faunoiphile behaviours but has no entries in the ‘references’ section to support any of the material in the entry. It claims that faunoiphiles “may” (my emphasis) engage in one or more of the following behaviours:

  • May or may not be involved in bestiality
  • May have little or no interest in human sexuality
  • May purchase animals from pet stores or breeders for the sole purpose of watching them mate
  • May write stories about animals mating
  • May draw pictures of animals mating
  • May masturbate while watching or thinking about animals mating
  • May take photographs of animals mating
  • May download pictures of animals mating from the internet

Most of the evidence for faunoiphilia existing comes from case studies. In 1991, Dr. Richard McNally and Dr. Brian Lukach published a paper in the Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. Their case study involved a white 33-year old “mildly mentally retarded man” (who they called ‘Mr. Z’) who was the only child of separated parents – an alcoholic father and a schizophrenic mother who also suffered from epilepsy (and who died when he was 12 years old). Mr. Z had engaged in a series of “satisfactory sexual relationships with women” (and also had a three-year marriage but had ended).

Mr. Z’s preferred sexual behaviour was to expose himself and masturbate in front of large dogs of either sex, and who also liked to rub his penis on large dogs. However, Mr. Z also engaged in zoophilic voyeurism (which in Mr. Z’s case involved sexual arousal from watching dogs engage in sexual behaviour but also was sexually aroused just watching dogs). Various publications have noted situations where people may have voyeuristic fantasies about sexual contact with animals without actually wanting to have sex with them. Nancy Friday in her book My Secret Garden, included 190 fantasies from different women (of which 23 involved zoophilic activity). Friday argues that zoophilic fantasies have the capacity to provide an escape from cultural expectations, restrictions, and judgments in relation to sex.

Given the scarcity of academic literature on faunoiphilia, we know nothing about the incidence, prevalence, or etiology of the behaviour. Maybe it is initiated after watching wildlife documentaries on television or maybe a chance sighting of animals copulating in the wild is enough to spark a sexual interest. We simply do not know. It could just be that faunoiphilia precedes zoophilia and is a stage that zoophiles go through before having actual sex with animals. However, very few of the zoophilic case studies I have read explicitly mention this (although the researchers may simply not have asked). This is certainly an area that should be researched more fully as part of the wider study of zoophilia.

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

Further reading

Aggrawal A. (2009). Forensic and Medico-legal Aspects of Sexual Crimes and Unusual Sexual Practices. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

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

Friday, N. (1973). My Secret Garden. New York, NY; Simon & Schuster

Masters, R.E.L. (1962). Forbidden Sexual behavior and Morality. New York, NY: Lancer Books.

McNally, R.J. & Lukach, B.M. (1991). Behavioral treatment of zoophilic exhibitionism. Journal of Behavioral Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 22, 281-284.

Nation Master (2012). Faunoiphilia. Located at: