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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.