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The Secret Life of Zoophiles

The Secret Life of Zoophiles

© 2000 Hani Miletski (M.S.W., Ph.D. - psychotherapist and an AASECT-certified sex therapist based in Bethesda, MD) This article is excerpted from a book she is currently writing concerning her study on bestiality and zoophilia.

It all started when my client, I'll call him Christian, told me he could not find any literature about bestiality/zoophilia. I had been seeing him, in my psychotherapy practice, because he could not stop having sex with dogs. He was a very religious man and believed it was wrong to have sexual relations with anything other than women, and even then, only when you are married to that woman. However, he could not control his urges to have sex with the dogs in his neighborhood.

I asked the librarian at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) to conduct a literature search for me (at that time I was not connected to the Internet), which resulted in very disappointing findings. There was nothing out there about bestiality and zoophilia other than one autobiography by Mark Matthews: The Horseman: Obsessions of a Zoophile. In this book, the author describes his struggles to accept the fact that he loved his horse more than he loved his wife. He portrayed himself as an intelligent, professional individual who was sexually attracted to horses and eventually, after admitting to himself his love for his horse, he married his horse.

I was intrigued with the idea that there are people who may be sexually attracted to animals and may even prefer animals as sex partners to humans. I decided to dedicate my doctoral dissertation to this topic and began to study bestiality and zoophilia.

This was not an easy thing to do. Some of my colleagues and friends thought I was out of my mind: "You are going to study what?" Some concluded there was something wrong with me, that I needed therapy and/or that I myself was having sex with animals. The man I was dating at the time could not even handle discussing the topic and we ended up going our separate ways (it wasn't a good relationship anyway). But, there were others who admired me and encouraged my controversial investigation and I was set to be (maybe) the first researcher to study this virtually unknown phenomenon and to conduct a large scale, professional study on bestiality/zoophilia.

With greater focus and effort, I spent days at the library of the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., and at the library of the National Institute for Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland. I found a specialized magazine, The Wild Animal Revue, which provided me with much information about this topic and its editor was so kind as to lend me several rare books to help with my study. I bought other rare books in a little store in New York, and the Internet was a source of abundant information about bestiality and zoophilia as well.

I ended up finding many books and articles whose authors mention and sometimes even discuss bestiality and zoophila. Many authors suggest that human beings have had sexual relations with animals since the dawn of history and throughout the world (in some countries more than in others). These authors assert that sexual relations with animals has been practiced, thought about, dreamed of and has emerged as myth, fairytale, folklore, literature, painting and sculpture (Cauldwell, 1948; Dumont, 1970; Kinsey et al, 1948; Kullinger, 1969; Masters, 1962). None of them, however, provides an in-depth picture into the lives and behaviors of the people who engage in sexual relations with animals. Many authors volunteer their opinions and discuss humans' sexual relations with animals as though they are an authority on the subject. Their opinions, however, are often conflicting and cause much confusion to the reader.

Conducting this extensive literature review diminished any lingering doubts about the necessity for a study on bestiality and zoophilia. As my literature review reveals, scientific studies on the motivations for engaging in bestiality/zoophilia and studies describing the sexual, social and mental health profile of individuals involved are very scarce. The few related studies described above (Kinsey et al., 1948; Kinsey et al., 1953; and Hunt, 1974) proved outdated and limited in their findings since they did not focus on the issue of bestiality/zoophilia. Peretti Rowan's study (1983) was more focused but did not distinguish between bestiality and zoophilia and only six variables were explored. Donofrio's recent study (1996) focused on zoophiles, however the small number of participants (8) limited his findings.

The major void of knowledge regarding bestiality/zoophilia bothered me. I believed, and I still do, that as clinical sexologists and psychotherapists, we need to be equipped with a carefully researched base of knowledge in order to understand the phenomenon and the individuals involved. As professionals helping those who struggle with and experience ego-dystonic feelings about bestiality and zoophilia, it is important that this research be available and on-going.

To this end, I decided to conduct an exploratory study in an attempt to gather data on a sexual behavior under-studied and misunderstood. I also wanted to better understand the people who engage in sexual relations with animals and their motivations for doing so.

The idea that some people may be sexually attracted to animals, to the point of preferring animals to humans as sex partners, fascinated me. The new term, coined by the "zoo" community ("zoo" is basically a shortcut for "zoophile") on the Internet: "zoosexuality," implies a sexual orientation towards animals. Stasya (1996), Tanka (1995), Shepherd (1996) and Fox (1994) on the Internet agreed with this definition. And Donofrio (1996) reports that the concept of zoophilia, being a sexual orientation, was supported by his doctoral study. He, therefore, suggests using a scale resembling Kinsey's sexual orientation scale which was also offered by Blake (1971). Donofrio's model suggests that those who have no interest whatsoever in sexual contact with animals would appear at the Zero point of the scale. Those individuals whose sole sexual outlet and attraction are animals would be assigned the Six position. Along that continuum, between these two extremes, would be individuals who include animal sexual contact in their fantasy, or have had incidental experiences with animals, have had more than incidental contact with animals, place their sexual activity with animals equal to that involving humans, prefer animal contact but engage in more than incidental contact with humans, and those who engage primarily in contact with animals with only incidental human sexual contact.

I therefore conceptualized my basic research question to be: "Is there a sexual orientation towards non-human animals?" I adapted the definition of "sexual orientation" from Francoeur (1991) in his discussion of homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality. According to this definition, sexual orientation consists of three interrelated aspects: (1) affectional orientation -- who or what we bond with emotionally; (2) sexual fantasy orientation -- who or what we fantasize having sex with; and (3) erotic orientation -- with whom or what we prefer to have sex.

Now I had to find subjects. I had no idea where to begin. I had my client but that was definitely not enough. I started talking to anyone willing to listen. I placed an ad in The Wild Animal Revue. I posted an ad on a message board at the Institute for Advanced Study for Human Sexuality. I sent a letter to Mark Matthews, the founder of the Zoophiliac Outreach Organization. I placed an ad in Sexual Science, the Society for Scientific Study of Sexuality newsletter. I placed an ad in Contemporary Sexuality, the American Association for Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) newsletter. Most importantly, I posted an Internet ad on the alt.sex. bestiality bulletin board.

When I went to AASECT's annual meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, in June 1996, I posted an ad on the message board. A prominent figure in the sexology field (from another organization) was offended by the ad and ordered it down. This sad incident, however, ended on a positive note: The president of AASECT at that time, Dr. Judy Seifer, formally apologized and became one of my doctoral advisors. Also, before the ad was taken down, it was photographed by a journalist and ended up in the Baltimore City Paper June 19, 1996 issue, as part of an article by Motoyama about the above conference.

All the ads had the same message:

"I need volunteers... Anyone who has ever had sexual relations with an animal... To fill out an anonymous questionnaire. I am a doctoral student who is doing her dissertation research on bestiality/zoophilia. I believe this topic is understudied and that it is important to shed some light on this phenomenon. This will be especially significant for people who struggle with this issue and for their psychotherapists. Please call me at (my phone number) weekdays and ask for Hani. I appreciate any help I can get. Thanks!"

One day I received a phone call from a woman, I'll call her Beverly. She told me she heard about me and my study from a friend on the Internet and she would like to help. I was elated. We had about a 10-minute conversation and I was very impressed. She was divorced, had a daughter and a boyfriend. She sounded very intelligent. And she was a zoo. She also told me she has many connections with the zoo community and would ask everyone to give me a call. I could hardly contain my excitement.

The next day I got a phone call from a man, I'll call him Jim. Jim was a college professor and a close friend of Beverly. They lived about 20 minutes away from each other. We talked for about an hour. He sounded like a really nice, smart guy, and I enjoyed our conversation very much. Then Ted called. He was a Biologist and a friend of Jim. He was a zoo too, and I was in heaven.

I then met with Beverly for lunch. She came with her daughter so we could not talk about my study, but we talked about everything else. I really liked her. Since I did not have access to the Internet at that time, she offered to come with her boyfriend to my place with a lap top and connect me to the Internet on their account. Her boyfriend was a very handsome man, in his 30s. He was divorced, a government employee with a "top secret" clearance and a zoo. I logged on the Internet for the first time in my life and into a chat room where a whole crowd of zoos was waiting to speak with me. Three hours went by and I did not even notice. I was ecstatic.

I never expected what happened next: zoos started calling me from all over the world. When I set up to do this study, I expected, at most, to end up with a few brave zoos and conduct a case-study kind of research. However, more then 160 people contacted me about the study (three heard about me through the Baltimore City Paper) and most of them were very supportive and encouraging. They congratulated me on the idea to conduct a study about them and expressed excitement about taking part in this research project. Some of them began advocating for me and getting their zoo friends to join the study. One zoo, Stasya, devoted his web-page to discuss and advocate my study and provided information about how to contact me. After a while, everyone on the Internet zoo community was talking about me; I felt like a celebrity.

Some of the zoos began calling me on a regular basis, just to chat. I welcomed these advances since I wanted to develop good relationships with them and hopefully get more subjects for my study through them. But, more importantly, I enjoyed talking to them and found them to be very interesting. I was fascinated with their stories and often with their wisdom. When their annual gathering took place, they invited me.

I was very flattered, now I knew they trusted me. But I had some mixed feelings. I did not want to get too close to them as people might think I am a zoo and/or their friend and wouldn't take my study seriously. At the same time, how could I give up an opportunity like this? I decided to go. This turned out to be a profound weekend. It opened the doors to a secret world populated by entertaining, intelligent people, engaged in a sexual behavior that much of our contemporary society views with revulsion. "Living outside the pale," they welcomed me into their gathering. As a researcher, they shared themselves with only the expectation that I would one day objectively report my findings to the greater population.

Beverly came to pick me up at the airport with three other zoos and, after a stop at her house, we went to Jim's where the gathering took place. Jim's house was located in a rural area. He had a couple of horses, a donkey, two llamas and a few dogs. I met more than fifty zoos from all around the country. Some of them came with their partners and everywhere I turned there were big dogs laying around. Everyone was nice and polite. People were supportive and cooperative (after they were assured about confidentiality, my intentions and that I was not a zoo). Overall, I found myself in the company of some interesting and friendly people, and we spent the weekend talking about zoophilia and other general topics. We watched (main-stream) movies, played cards and other games, went for walks, cooked, laughed and had lots of fun. When I returned home, I had a long list of new volunteers for my study and I was much more educated about zoophilia and zoophiles.

While I was at the gathering, in May of 1996, I took the opportunity to conduct two focus groups. In a focus group participants engage in an open discussion about a specific topic, in this case -- bestiality and zoophilia. It's sort of a brainstorming process, which I used to get ideas for what to ask in my questionnaire.

The first group met for an hour and included 13 men. The second group met for an hour and a half and included 11 men and one woman. Every participant signed a consent form allowing me to tape the discussion and use their comments (anonymously) in my book. I would like to share some of their comments, so you get a flavor of the way these zoos think and the issues that are on their minds.

I started the discussion by asking: "What do you think is bestiality? What is zoophilia? Is there a difference between them? And what is the difference, if there is one?"

-- "I think there is definitely a difference between bestiality and zoophilia . . . zoophiles are more emotionally attached to their animals than a bestialist would be. A zoophile might regard the animal they're with as their significant other. A bestialist might keep that animal as a companion, take very good care of them, but not hold them in the same emotional sense as a zoophile would."

-- "I would say that bestiality refers to the act, any act, regardless of circumstance. Zoophilia is everything beyond the act . . . the thoughts, many feelings, decisions on whether to do such things. Zoophilia describes a person; bestiality describes an act."

-- "I'd say it's the difference between having a caring relationship and just using the animal for gratification. The bestialists, from my point of view, just basically use the animal for sexual relief . . . they may take care of it and that . . . but he's treating it as . . . a sex toy. You get just as much out of it as out of what you would, as using a doll or going and seeing a prostitute. Whereas a zoophile relationship is more. It's a marriage, in every sense of the term."

-- "My dog, when he wants sex, I will masturbate him, and that's as far as it goes . . . I'm not like a big sex hound or anything like that. If my dog, when my dog really wants sex, then I'll give him that satisfaction, but it's, my relationship with him, is love-based. It's love emotions, being with him, just being able to cuddle up next to him, fuzzy his belly, just hearing any noises he can make, or a cute look. Everything about him. I'm in love with every part of his body, every action he's ever done . . ."

-- "The dog was what made me realize that I really enjoyed giving him pleasure. Giving pleasure, not necessarily as a submissive act, but sometimes, but the giving of pleasure I believe is a true, one of the true marks of a zoophile, and that we enjoy making them happy. We enjoy giving them sexual pleasure, we enjoy giving them sensual pleasure through grooming and stuff, and we enjoy, you know, giving them the companionship that they would need if they were in like a pack situation or a herd situation . . . through being near them and being associated with them in that way, we can fill their needs, and being able to do that is really a great privilege and pleasure."

-- "What's the difference between a person making love and when is a person just having sex? Even among zoophiles it's quite possible to have sex without making love and so it's pretty difficult to pinpoint where zoophilia ends and someone that's just creating bestiality, the sexual act. The only thing that can ever define that is that person's own feelings."

-- "Right, because there are some people who are zoophiles, like myself, who occasionally have flings or have intercourse with creatures that they may have not met before or haven't gotten to know."

-- "These are artificial definitions. There are divisions within the community. People want to separate themselves. One thing I just want to separate from is animal abuse, okay? Zoophiles generally want nothing to do with that . . . most of us here I'm sure would define ourselves as zoo. How many of you have fence hopped? Are you less a zoo? Are you now a bestialist because you've fence hopped?"

At this point I had to ask: "What's 'fence hopped'"?

-- "Jumped over the fence at night to go . . ."

-- "It's not like you can go to a farmer's door and say, 'I'd like to take your mare out on a date'" (laughter).

-- "The zoophile thing is kind of a gradual process. When you're an adolescent, your hormones are raging . . . and the emotional content just developed over time."

-- "It sounds just like anyone else, though, I mean your normal, average heterosexual junior high or high school student when they're all together."

-- "I don't feel that zoophilia has to involve sex though. Like with my dog, I mean, I consider myself a zoo, but I really don't have sex with my dog. I love him more than anything in the universe and I consider him to be my lover and we're companions. I'd do anything in the world for him . . . he's just everything in my life, so that's how I feel masturbation is all it comes to, and the only time that I would ever masturbate him is when he would initiate it . . . the sexual part isn't really part of my feelings; it's something he wants and he's the one who always initiates it. And I really don't see that as my main focus of being a zoo . . ."

-- "I think what we're seeing is an effort to kind of define ourselves. Now that we know that there is a group of us out here, which a lot of us started three or four years ago . . . now there's a struggle to come up with some sort of nomenclature . . ."

-- "The greatest word to come along in a while, to be coined in a while, is 'zoosexual,' because it takes all these arguments and tosses them out the window . . ."

-- "Every piece on the continuum is contained within zoosexual."

-- "It's a lifestyle."

-- "Part of the problem also is that . . . zoophiles are, the distribution of zoophiles is a perfect cross-section of the entire world, or at least the country. There are zoophiles from every walk of life . . ."

-- "That does bring up one other point: that most zoos, at least in my own case and I'm sure a lot of others, you tend to think of yourself as a real pervert because . . . it's next to impossible to find others. All of us here have been extremely fortunate in finding an entire group of people just like ourselves [through the Internet]. I really hate to think of how many people go through their entire lives without so much as ever realizing that there are others."

-- "It's a really good feeling to find others . . . for a long time it was like, well, I have feelings, I'm not sure how to deal with them and then I read part of a book. It's like, 'Wow, there must be other people out there.' But then I was presented with the problem: I have no way of contacting them. Because it's not like you can wear a little button that says, 'Hi, I'm a zoophile' you know (laughter). So, through the Internet . . . you can get together with people and then talk for a while and realize that you're not alone, and it's very comforting . . . it's very scary thinking how many people live their lives, or even lose their lives because they can't deal with being a zoo. Cause that happens a lot with homosexuals and not being able to deal with being a zoo could result in the same thing . . . it's a hard time. It's kind of a rough trip to come to terms with this sexuality. It's not easy and then all the stuff that we have to put up with from society and just living in a closet where you can't really come out to too many people, I mean, you're lucky if you can come out to your friends . . ."

-- "It can be an incredible life-changing experience . . . when you first read about other people who are like you, when you first talk to them online, when you first talk to them on the phone, when you first talk to them in real life . . . you're real! You're really there! You really are like me! It's an amazing revelation . . . "

-- "Luckily, because of the Internet . . . you meet people and realize that it's really not a disorder. It's just a way of life. It's good to know that."

-- "Exactly. Finding out that there were other zoos and speaking with others randomly, some of the most unscrewed up people I've met in my life . . ."

-- "There have been a number of, a huge number of new people, who've found out . . ."

-- "Around 700."

-- "[Name of a person] is a gentleman who has put up a Web page that deals with zoophilia and related issues and has some stories and facts, frequently asked questions . . ."

-- "Web page is much easier to access . . ."

-- "You don't have to talk to anyone, it's just there. I had one set up as well and it had, on average, 200 hits a day from all over the world."

-- "[Name of a person] got so many [hits] that he had to take the counter off. The hits to his page were taking up 60 percent of the T-1 line."

-- "I think he said 10,000 . . ."

-- "Apparently there's a tremendous amount of interest out there, whether it's all voyeuristic people wanting to get their rocks off, or get slicked out or, get grossed out by it . . . but intermingled in the big chunk of people that are, that don't know what it is, and see a casual reference someplace and go look, there are always going to be a few people that are very serious about it, like us, that actually are willing to go out and talk to someone or kind of hang out in the shadows a little bit for a while, read a news group for a while, then get up a little more courage and get on a talker and start talking to a few people there, and then eventually come here and hang with us weirdos."

-- "Yeah, I'm sure for every one of us that's willing to come to a group like this there's probably 40 who would never do it . . ."

-- "You have a lot to lose . . . if there were really some kind of police set-up, or blackmail. There are so many things that can go wrong . . . if you think about how many people could have their careers destroyed . . ."

-- "When you think about the 'Net there's kind of an illusion which I bought into for a while. 'Cause when I got on the 'Net two years ago the Net seemed very different then and people seemed a lot smarter. But as AOL and 'Net access becomes easier and more, and you don't have to be smart or a computer whiz to get online anymore, we're really beginning to see that it is a whole cross-section of the population, that it [bestiality] isn't just a phenomenon of smart people or computer geeks or anything like that . . . and I'm discovering it's almost disappointing to have this illusion destroyed, that maybe we're all smarter, or a little more creative, but the more I talk to, the more zoos I meet online, the more I discover that we're just people, and run the gamut of what people are like."

-- "Yeah, we were getting a skewed sampling. You know . . . a few years ago, everyone on the Internet . . . had to be a smart person. You had to know about computers and everything . . . I was convinced that zoophiles had a marked tendency to be on the upper scale of intelligence . . ."

-- "I know two blacks and three Asians and all of them like to keep quiet."

-- "Drawing parallels with the gay community . . . the very first time on there [a chat room called "bearish demons"] I met a black bear person and I asked, 'well, how come there's so few black bears?' and they said, 'Oh, there's plenty of black bears, they just don't talk to you.' 'And why not?' 'Well, because you're white.' And so there's an overlying tendency among ethnic groups to not mix . . . so, it's possible that there are blacks out there, but . . . they may feel so alienated that . . . they're a zoo and we're zoos, but they still can't relate to us."

-- "It's interesting, cause I've gotten to know five African-American zoos because everybody thinks my 'Net name, Black, [means] I'm an African-American . . . so I hear from more African-Americans."

-- "I get a similar thing because of the 'Net name I chose . . . It's an obviously very ethnic-sounding, very black name . . . so I get a lot of black people . . ."

-- "I think there's almost an equal number of women, they're just much quieter" [on the Internet].

-- "I think that by and large the case with any woman admitting to any sexual outlet in our society they're treated far more harshly by people than males are. They're not going to fess up to it. They tend to be far more closeted and less willing or able to talk about it than males are."

-- "And being that most of us have known each other through the 'Net . . . basically there just aren't that many women out there . . . a lot of women get on the 'Net . . . and then they get scared off . . . it is extremely common on the 'Net for people to . . . ask 'I want to watch a woman do it with an animal.' It's so common, it's boring . . . I know that I get really offended and really bothered. 'Well, I'll call you if there's an animal that's really sexy . . .' None of your damn business! Because they assume that anyone who would do that with an animal has no problem being degraded."

-- "There are more women appearing on the net, and thus are coming to these gatherings -- there are some here. For example, there's Goldie, who's not a zoo at all but just likes hanging around us cause she thinks we're cool . . ."

-- "But there's still a lot of women who are there and they don't feel comfortable talking about it . . . people will talk in chat mode, but they [women zoos] won't talk in public. They have to be more cautious, and rightly so, because there are a lot of horny males out there online -- 60% droolers and jerks . . ."

-- "There are a lot more [women zoos] out there than the sample [group] will indicate. More of us confirm that just from personal e-mail."

-- The woman participant said: "Women drop in [on the Internet] and then they drop back out again. And I think that it's more about that women don't go around talkin' about their sexuality, and about the sex that they have . . . most of you guys know no personal, intimate details about my sex life, because I don't share . . ."

-- "We think there are a lot more women out there, maybe housewives who get into things with their family pets, that people don't know about . . . I think there are a lot of in-the-closet zoo people who are out there, and thinking about the people that don't use the Internet, or never will use the Internet -- there's probably many that we will never know of, because this is so taboo."

-- "We need confirmed studies . . . something where research has been done . . . we've got to be able to say, 'it's accepted, it exists, and it's real.' And it's not just us trying to fool ourselves . . . and another thing that's a common thread that I've seen, this is, we're one of the only groups I've ever seen, as a group, that adamantly refuses to recruit. We don't reach enough people. I have actually gone out of my way to discourage people. If I get the feeling it's just a sexual [fantasy], I will flat out tell them, 'Go buy yourself a sex doll. Go hire a prostitute.' You know, slam bam, thank you. And . . . if I get that feeling from somebody, I'll discourage them, because it's not what it's all about. There's more to it than that. It's commitment. It's a worse commitment than a marriage because you can't walk away. They don't understand if you leave them."

-- "And this has been tough for me, because I know I'm going back after a week and a half to dogs that aren't used to seeing me gone . . . it's been three years since I've taken a vacation of a week. Other than that, we've been together almost constantly."

-- "I've never been separated from my love for a day . . ."

-- "It is certainly worth mentioning that there are just endless numbers of parallels between zoophilia in American society and homosexuals in American society . . . we are following exactly the same path, footstep for footstep, of gays, except that we're farther behind . . . well, there are stereotypes . . . you go back a few decades, all gays were drag queens . . ."

-- "Child molesters."

-- "Yeah, there you go, child molesters. I can remember in my childhood in the '70s, I remember reading in Ann Landers: 'I just found out my babysitter is lesbian. Should I fear for my kids' safety?' And certainly, it may be hard for someone who's known us to believe it, but people hear about someone who does things like this and they . . ."

-- "For some reason, the image that stereotype . . . I seem to hear most often is the notion of a person raping a goat. I don't know what it is about a goat . . . for some reason people imagine this drooling maniac, clambering after a fleeing goat . . ."

-- "Along the line of stereotypes . . . non-zoos online . . . immediately assume that because I'm male that I'm a heterosexual zoo. So that if you're male either you're just out there shagging sheep or goats. And I have had a lot of goats . . . and it completely escapes them that maybe possibly . . . that we're the one in the passive role in this."

-- "A lot of people will say how can you abuse an animal? I mean, an animal doesn't have a choice when you're doing it. Well, getting into the gory details, when I bend over and he goes, he jumps up, it's like . . . I'm not holding a gun going, 'you gotta do this'" (laughter).

-- "People will say, 'Yeah, but you're taking advantage of that poor creature. It's just instinct.' And I've yet to have an opportunity to use this reply: What exactly would you call it when human beings do it? It's instinct."

-- "The only thing that I had heard, that was suggested to me during an argument with a non-zoo was that, 'Well, you've obviously perverted the animal for the animal to have any interest in you at all.' And . . . the individual said the animal should be put down."

-- "I can vouch for the donkey's virtue (laughter)!"

-- "The ignorance that goes with some of this, this is one thing I would be so bold as to say, exceeds what goes on with the attitudes toward gays. Because the ignorance . . . in common attitudes towards zoophilia is funny . . ."

-- "Occasionally we still will get scolded in the Internet by someone who's saying "You, crazy people! Don't you realize that, what kind of monstrous mutant creature can come of such an unholy union?'" (laughter).

-- "You go back and break it down into chromosome number and genetics, and say, 'Now if any of us could have had a baby of that nature, we would now be fantastically wealthy and starring on many TV shows.'"

-- "We wouldn't have time -- we'd have so many kids (laughter)!"

-- "It's [having sex with animals] not usual, but it is natural."

-- "It's like saying albinism isn't natural. It's unusual to happen in a lot of species, but it does happen occasionally."

-- "The presentation of bestiality in the media tends to be always very light-handed or, you know, humorous in nature."

-- "I think that one of the reasons for that is because nobody really believes that anybody with any mind at all actually does this. Frequently we see the same thing; people get on the 'Net [and say]: 'Are you guys for real? Are you really doing this? I thought it was just a joke.'"

-- "You get it many times . . . they'll either say, 'Got any pictures?' or they'll say, 'Wow, this is really weird.' Or they'll say, 'You guys are all sick!'"

-- "We've become the ultimate fantasy for some people, we're comic relief for some people and some of us are really tired of it. We want to be recognized as a legitimate sexual orientation. That's what we are."

-- "The only time I've ever seen anything presented in the media has been whenever somebody gets in trouble. And it is always the rapists who get it -- the animal rapers . . . it is the ones who abuse the animal . . . that are most frequently . . . who get caught and who people are hearing about . . ."

-- "Without exception . . . the media will always use the words . . . 'sexually assaulted the animal.' Always, every single time."

-- "A zoophile is painted as a bestialist who will eventually become something like a rapist. Will go out and shoot people at McDonald's, a pedophile. Because they're always coming up with studies that say this person just shot 20 people at the local McDonald's used to be a bestialist. Or you know, he's a pedophile, he started out with animals for sexual gratification . . ."

-- "Another thing to think about too is groups such as the Humane Society, the SPCA, PETA. Dealing with them, they'd probably like nothing better than to see our heads in a fish tank or on a platter . . ."

-- "Their goal is to turn the entire United States and get laws passed that require every personally owned pet to be castrated. Literally. That's their stated goal . . ."

-- "There's another aspect of that, too, that's not uncommon for the Humane Society . . . in the interest of the animal, they will say, 'The animal has learned to have sex with a human. It can never be rehabilitated as a house pet.' So they kill it. Pure and simple, they kill it."

-- "I think there's also another aspect to it where it's viewed as a little bit more acceptable. It's, oh, one of those things that adolescents do and then you grow out of it. And it's okay when you're young but then, as you get older, suddenly you become a social menace . . . I remember waiting through the years I was 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, until I was going to grow out of this phase I was in (laughter)."

-- "Well, I don't know what's wrong with Kinsey's study, but it's the only study I know of . . ."

-- "Yeah, Kinsey, that was the part that they had a problem with because that's how he got his data, from interviewing child molesters."

-- "Whenever you see an article about the problems and evils of the Internet, what do they always talk about?"

-- "Bestiality and pedophiles."

-- "One observation I've made is that we consider our animal partners mature adults, which says that it's contact between adults . . . basically pedophilia is abhorrent, if not more so than it is to the average person, because of the immaturity involved."

-- "My two horses, for example, I have tried to do . . . things sexually with them that they did not like and they told me they didn't like it. I mean . . . their ears went back, you know, they were uncomfortable, they fidgeted. Basically, what I'm trying to say is, I tried to be a top with both my horses. My horses don't care for that . . . there was a time, years ago, I would admit that I would have just gone ahead with it any ways. The older I got, the more mature and more acceptance I got in what my lifestyle is, I was very sensitive. I became more sensitive to my animal lovers' needs . . . I didn't try to do anything, I never tried to do anything to my animals that I'd feel harmed them in any way . . ."

-- "Also, the dog has the ultimate way to say no and that's with two rows of very sharp teeth . . ."

-- "[When] they're not interested, and it takes an understanding person to not proceed then. Because anyone could proceed, you know . . . exert enough force on the animal, but that'd be a bestialist. A zoo would see that the animal did not want to continue and stop. And that can be frustrating, 'cause you're all excited, but it really takes a strong person to say, 'OK, the animal says no,' and if they did continue it would be rape."

-- "The fact that if the animal is really feeling strong about it, they'll be more than merely indicative that they're not overly interested. There's always the matter of, as you say, with a dog, two rows of rather sharp teeth. Horse has a good, a healthy set of choppers and mighty sharp hooves, not to mention it outmatches you by at least four to one, 400 pounds, you know . . . I got kicked in the thigh by a . . . gelding . . . if I'd put my head down he would have clocked me right in the noggin and I would have been brain damaged. Yeah, yeah, I would have been toast . . ."

I asked what's the difference between kids and animals when it comes to sex.

-- "Kids are not mature."

-- "For me, it's dealing with, literally dealing with, a mature adult of another species who is my equal. I don't view an animal as inferior, or me as superior to him . . . and a kid, any immature adult, be it a kid, an [immature] animal, the mental equipment, the nerve paths, whatever you want to call it, they aren't well enough conformed to make . . . a good decision . . ."

-- "I agree that animals are, I see an animal as my equal . . ."

-- "How can you sexually consider a child to be an informed equal? If they are not capable of making what has been called an informed decision, then, no, they should not be involved in any way whatsoever. Whether they're four or 40."

-- "Back to the Humane Society thing, they like to consider animals as children, for some strange, ungodly reason . . ."

-- "As soon as they say that, then we get all flustered . . . because it's very difficult to express the fact that children are children, and animals are fucking not kids! OK? They're not human beings . . . and people who do make the, and do try and draw an equality there, first of all, it's really, it's offensive in a way that, I consider that to be demeaning to the animal, because that's like saying that it, equating a horse, a stallion, like . . . who's a lover of mine, equating him with some kid who doesn't know what the heck is going on . . ."

-- "Well, if we also remember, the one reason . . . to equate animals as children, children make a wonderful political tool, media weapon . . ."

-- "The Humane Society's going to compare animals to children . . . I'd like to see how the . . . Humane Society would feel about people eating children (laughter)."

-- ". . . I guess I've gotten a lot more bitter, the longer I've been a vegetarian. I don't know but it's like I, when I see a person eating meat, it's like, not that it just could be my lover, but that was a conscious being that could react the same way we've all been talking about, and experienced love . . ."

-- ". . . It goes back to the assumption that people who have sex with animals are these drooling, mentally, three-hearted people who are idiots and things, no self-control. I was having lunch with a friend of mine and I'm talking about how I'd like to get a job in a horse stable that was in town, and he said, 'Well, are you planning on telling the owner that you have sex with animals?' And I said, 'Well, no!' And he goes, 'Well, you have to!' And I said, 'Why?' And he goes, 'Just warn him that you're having sex with his animals.' And I said, 'What makes you think I'm going to have sex with his animals?'"

-- "There are plenty of male gynecologists in the world who have female patients . . . I got fired from my last job in an animal hospital because I was a zoophile. The only sheep that I touched was to put beta dye on it for its surgery. Never did anything sexual to an animal there. And I lost my job because of my sexuality, though I never did anything sexually related."

-- "There's also that whole other issue of, you may be in a stable or other situation with lots of animals around. That doesn't mean that every one of them is attractive to you. I see dogs running all over the place and there are a lot of them that I'm attracted to, but a lot of them are not . . ."

-- ". . . I'm living as an exclusive zoo, my God, almost all my life. As far as explaining, I've already outed myself to my sister, and my God, she sat down and smoked four cigarettes, chain-smoked them. I was like just shaking that whole night. But she understood and said she still loved me, but never to tell my parents. Hani, I made the horrible mistake of printing that article talking about you, asking for volunteers, and lo and behold I was visiting . . . and they [my parents] came to clean my house and found it."

-- "Holy shit!"

-- "I'd hate to think what would happen if somebody got into my computer."

-- "My friend was very lucky, he had a psychiatrist tell the judge there's nothing wrong with it [having sex with animals] . . . he only got off with probation, but he got hours of community time, he lost his federal job, his horse and his career was destroyed."

-- "I . . . had therapy when I was 14. I initially got caught when I was 14. I went through the court system as a juvenile and was put on probation . . . I ran away from home after getting caught having sex with a couple different German Shepherds. And the therapist . . . was absolutely non-judgmental . . . we worked on the issues of why . . . it was a very positive experience. And then I had another experience, when I was about 20, with another therapist who had a completely different paradigm in mind . . . it was an addiction paradigm . . . and I had a really hard time trying to apply that to myself . . . he thought I should categorize myself in this. I could understand the dynamics of, you're into zoophilia, it's pretty easy to feel isolated, and perhaps you can use the sex as a way of medicating yourself, but I just couldn't. There was no reason. I had a dog, I already had a very intense emotional bond, and he was like, 'You've got to get rid of your dog.' And I was like, 'No way. I'm not getting rid of my dog.'"

-- "I did therapy when I was early teens . . . I had started talking about suicide one morning and it helped out . . . there was about 20 years or so where basically I dealt with the guilt feelings I was having by suppressing most of my emotions and finding people [on the Internet] to talk to was what allowed me to open up the guilt, to feel safe to deal emotionally with [my zoophilia]"

I asked: "What was your psychiatrist's reaction?"

-- "I never told him. I didn't feel safe to tell him. [We talked about] a lot of other things but I didn't feel safe to tell him [about my zoophilia]."

-- (The woman participant said): "I told my shrink just a couple of weeks ago actually and in the context of talking about my [human] partner . . . at the end of [the conversation], I had to say, 'Wait a minute. I just told you that I have sex with animals, and you just . . . it just kind of rolled right along.' And she said, 'Is this a problem for you?' And I said, 'No.' And she said, 'How long have you been coming here?' And I said, 'Way too long (laughter).' And she said, 'I know you well enough to know that if this was a problem for you, you would have brought it up long ago . . .' And that's the last I've ever heard of it . . ."

-- "I was talking with one [therapist] . . . and the first thing he wanted to do was lock me up for about a week for observation . . . I know of at least three people... who have been locked up, treated to electroshock therapy, drug therapy, and all that, just because they admitted that yes, they were a zoo . . ."

-- "The one time I saw a therapist about it . . . his whole reaction was, 'You should be locked up and will stay that way.' I got up off the couch after that statement, walked out, and . . . personally I would not be tremendously unhappy to see that he had lost his license . . ."

I asked if they thought zoophilia and/or bestiality were perversions.

-- "Do I think it's a perversion, or right or wrong, or anything like that? I don't think that it's wrong, but what's more, it really doesn't matter. I've come to the conclusion that it's okay to have certain desires, but what is important is how you handle them . . ."

-- "So perhaps the question might be rephrased in terms of not perversion per se, but . . . does it produce worries, doubts, or guilt within you?"

-- "Is it morally wrong? If it were morally wrong, we wouldn't be here."

-- "If you're comfortable with your sexuality and it's not damaging to your partner, and society, then there really shouldn't be anything wrong with it. I hope that's how modern-day psychologists see it, is that you're not hurting your partner. If you're a bestialist, that's debatable, but if you're a zoo, you're not going to hurt your partner and it's not going to hurt society if they don't get out their camcorders and look through the window and get offended by it."

-- "In my case, my folks had a book, a textbook on human sexuality, in a bookcase when I was growing up. And since the day I found that book and read about zoophilia, I wasn't doing anything at that time, but I said, 'Whoa, okay.' And I like Greek myths, I thought they were pretty cool, and I knew what my inclination was at that point and I'd never really had any problem with it."

-- "I've come to the conclusion with my own self that I'm capable of responding to many different stimuli in an erotic manner and that to apply this sort of morality, some sort of construct of our society to that, these natural feelings that I have, I just can't do that anymore."

-- "When I was growing up as a teenager, I was lucky enough: my parents had a copy of Kinsey's report in the house and I looked through it and found references to bestiality and I thought, 'Okay, I'm not alone.' And that was a great help towards dealing with the feelings I was having. I'd often sat down and analyzed -- is what I'm doing wrong? You know, if you follow the biblical interpretation in Leviticus, any person who lays with an animal shall be stoned and the animal put to death as well, which I thought was grossly unfair to the animal."

-- "From my standpoint, I don't see how anything I do with an animal that causes the animal enjoyment or pleasure could be construed as wrong. And I see lots of people who think nothing of eating an egg from a chicken that's been confined to a one-foot cage with four other chickens its whole life, and that's not cruelty to animals, but when I insert my genitalia into the animal's genitalia, or vice versa, or however you want to look at it, then that suddenly is an evil thing. And I don't understand . . . it's okay to kill animals, cause them pain, do whatever you want to so you get the desired result from them, whether it's pulling a cart, or providing you with food, but it's not okay to have mutually pleasurable sexual relations."

I asked if they would want to change and not be zoophiles.

-- "I don't know what it is not to be a zoophile, so I really couldn't say yes or no."

-- "Yeah, if I could have from the start not been one, I think I would have rather not been one. But would I choose to change from a zoo into a non-zoo? No."

-- "Yes, actually I would. This is probably going to come as a shock. I would because facing what I am and dealing with it and learning to live with it, and I've been in [the] position, I have also sat there and worried if it wouldn't be better just to end it. It's caused me no end of pain . . . I would do it, change it because, to be honest . . . I've been dealing with my zoophilia . . . since I was about 14. I didn't have a word for it until I was 25. I know something was different. But this has caused me more pain in my life and I've never been able to come to grips with it. And I'm still, to this day, fighting it and suffering a lot of pain for it . . ."

-- "If I had been given the opportunity I, in fact I lost two opportunities when I was about 24, due to my own inexperience with a woman . . . we were at a party and she asked me, 'Am I your girlfriend?' And being the dumb, inexperienced fool that I was, I was honest and said, 'I don't own anybody. That's your decision if you want to be with me.' Six months later she wound up marrying the man that she was talking about, that wanted to know this. It was really her asking if I wanted a permanent relationship, but I didn't know it until years later . . . so I would have changed for them [the two women/opportunities], but now, and considering where it's led me, I won't, you know, don't look back. I've been comfortable with it."

-- "For me, I wouldn't have changed. I'm 23 and I would have never changed . . . I'm really at a crossroads in my life . . . because I have a female friend who would marry me in a second, but, you know, for all the difficulty that it causes, I wouldn't trade my relationship [with animals] for anything, because it's that rich, and it's, it makes me feel that complete to have it."

-- "The bonds we have with animals are really unique . . . it's not the same as you could get from a person. I'm married, and I would never change that . . . but, as it is, being a zoo is really important to me, that the feelings that I get when I'm around horses are incredible, and I'm addicted to them. There's no way that I'm going to lose that. If I had to stop having sex with the animals forever, I could deal with that. If I had to live the rest of my life never knowing the feeling of a horse's hide under my hands, or the smell of its breath in my nostrils, or the look of my face reflected in its eyes, I would rather die."

-- "It's possible we can change. But I'll always have dogs in my life. Many times I've asked myself the question, 'Would I do anything differently?' And I look and I say, 'You know, if I had to have these impulses, then maybe I wouldn't have experienced confusion and the amount of loneliness I did . . . self hatred for a while. But also I look at how I am now and the journey may have been rough, but I personally like who I am now . . ."

-- "In my own case . . . I've gone out with and been involved with a number of very great women, and I've yet to find anyone who showed any indication of tolerance for bestiality, and I'm not going to stay involved with somebody who's not going to be accepting . . ."

-- "How do you bring it to your date? You know, honey, by the way, you kept asking why I was out at the barn late all the time . . ."

-- "I've told my last two boyfriends that they cannot be everything. That my interests are too great. They don't have hooves, a mane, tail, they can't have paws . . ."

-- "One thing is, I believe, common to all zoos is that they won't even consider a long-term relationship with a human being unless that human being is fully prepared to accept the zoophilia."

-- "That's not true for me. I don't buy that."

-- "It is for me. The people here know that there are people who can't accept them . . . I married my wife because I thought it was the best acceptable thing."

-- "I can remember when I was 14 years old and I'm having these desires to be with the goats and the dogs and the horses . . . and at the same time thinking, 'How am I ever going to hide from my wife that I'm out, you know, having sex with the horses?'"

-- "I was at my grandparents' house and they're like, 'When are you gonna bring your girlfriend over?' so I said, 'I'll bring my dog next time (laughter).' And then next time I brought my dog, and they're like, 'You actually brought your dog.' And I'm like, 'Well, he keeps me warm at night . . . (laughter) and if he starts snoring, I put him in his house outside.' That killed the conversation for pretty much the whole day (laughter)."

-- "My wife said she hoped I got doggie AIDS and died (laughter) . . . what she specifically told me was I was not to bring any of my weird Internet friends home, because they will get AIDS on her furniture (laughter)."

-- "There's only one thing about zoophilia that I'd like to change and that's the fact that I can outlive everybody who I fall in love with. I'm on my fifth regular canine lover because the previous ones, by one means or another, have passed on. And that's one of the hardest things about being a zoo. It's the only thing I don't like."

-- "When I was with my first love (a dog) . . . I was to the point that I really couldn't concentrate on my schoolwork at college, or even, I was at the National Guard, you know, just eight hours, lonely, having anxiety attacks to be back with her. And that kind of gives you an idea of what I went through when I lost her . . . I was depressed for two, three years, so deeply that I just, I couldn't even concentrate. I stopped reading because I couldn't even stay focused on more than a paragraph. I failed the first school that I went to in the Army and ended up in training with drill sergeants for eight months . . . I spent my entire income just to be able to barely afford a house to live in, to support that lifestyle . . . my entire adult life I spent pursuing to be able to live that lifestyle . . . I just couldn't be without a dog."

-- "I have known what I was when I was about 11 years old. My first love was on my paper route. She was an older female German Shepherd . . . but I never had a chance to touch her because I was so horrified of getting caught. But when she finally died of cancer, I actually was like crying for a week because of that . . . and when I was 18, I had my first love. My parents let me buy a dog, and it was the happiest year of my life. And really . . . problems about, they gave her away and (crying) . . . you don't want me to get into my story . . . (still crying and a few of the guys sitting next to him started hugging him). I went into a pure depression because of that and almost committed suicide . . ."

-- "The problem with losing all the lovers all the time is that every time it takes a little piece of you, and you lose a little bit of confidence in yourself that you'll ever be able to fall in love again . . . and the thing is, I realize that after losing [my horse] and after losing all the other horses and after losing the dog, after losing all of them, I was still able to feel the connection, to feel the bond that you feel love for another animal."

I asked "Why do you have sexual relations with animals?"

-- "It's different for every person . . . for me, it becomes the why not question. Because I know what it's like to wake up and be licked by a raspy tongue in the morning after having wonderful love with my dog the previous evening. And to deny myself that and to deny my lover the pleasure that I know I can give him . . . why? What good reason is there not to experience some of the highest highs and to share those with somebody who you know loves you and who can express that love to you so well . . . there have been a couple people who I have fallen in love with, who haven't, have said that they loved me but did not return that. I've never fallen in love with an animal that never returned that love. That doesn't mean that I hold that against people. Some people just aren't perfect. That's fine. They're not the right person for me."

-- "Dogs seem to be very compatible with people. Look at all the interactions we have with dogs. We groom them, we hug them and kiss them like we do with people we care about. Often, we're actually more tactile with our dogs than we are with people. We feel protective of them and very often dogs feel protective of us . . . it's very fun to play [with] dogs. You understand them. So, if we're interacting on all these different social levels and it's a question of the dog being a social unit, they why is it, you know, sex is of course the next step . . . so you can have even more interaction . . . and you don't always know if it's love or not. Love is a human concept. You can equate an animal actions into what love is for us, but then humans can't even agree on what love is . . ."

-- "I think the 'why' question's pretty easy. It's because we like it and it feels good. Another question is 'how?' or, 'How did you get this way?' I'm guessing that 99 percent of the people here grew up as labeled 'odd' by everyone around them . . . quite a few people grew up being, you know, not very popular . . ."

-- "The environment pushes you. The environment that we were raised in pushed us towards animals. It didn't make us zoo, but not having as much interaction with human beings that I did, I was able to look elsewhere for companionship occasionally. Not all the time. I still had human friends, but I was a heck of a lot closer to my dogs than I was to any of the other kids that I hung around with at the time. It may not be the same for everyone, but I'm guessing that a lot of us were just kind of nudged in that general direction, you know, by our environment. It wasn't the whole reason, but it was part of the reason."

-- "On the other side, that's not the only reason. Because I was part of, I competed in a lot of athletic events in school, I was part of a very popular culture within my school. I had sex with young ladies about the same time that I, my earliest sexual experience was also with goats and with women. So I had both opportunities, but I have slowly selected, almost exclusive at this point, I've turned 40, and still single, it's almost exclusively animals at this point . . ."

-- "Yeah. See, I was married for five years . . . I'm out of that marriage, I'm divorced now, but out of that marriage I did have a child. But although she never did it [sex with animals], my ex, she and I had sex that was different sex than my canine sex. That is real sex, real love."

Why?

-- "Because (laughter). I really can't explain why. I was 11 years old when I had my first fantasies, so I don't know why, or where I even got them from, you know . . . I don't have a clue . . ."

-- "I started having sex with animals when I was 8, and at the time I didn't really have any tolerant sense of right or wrong as to what I was doing. I knew that if I got caught by my mother I'd be in trouble, but I didn't really know why I would be in trouble. I knew that it felt really good and I really liked doing it . . ."

-- "I don't know about hereditary, but I feel like I was born this way. I've always been close to nature and animals and everything else like that and I just guess I never felt like it was really wrong. I couldn't see that if I loved an animal this much, why not take it an extra step? I just feel like I was born this way. There wasn't anything that happened in my childhood to turn me off from women or anything like that. I wasn't an anti-social kid. My parents even told me that I was a normal kid (laughter)."

-- "I was always emotionally attached to animals . . . but I was also physically attracted to animals on the street, you know. It was just like, I guess heteros see a hot woman and they're like, 'look at that woman.' And I see an attractive animal and I'm like, 'Whoa, that's a really attractive animal.' And it's always been that way and I think it's hereditary . . ."

-- "I don't feel like I really had a choice, I guess. That it's just the way I am and there's no way that I could say that I'm not a zoo. It's not like I decided to have sex with animals or I decided to have this attachment or love for animals. It's like, I can't ignore it. It's part of me and I can't, I couldn't possibly have a normal relationship without that . . . this is just the way I am and if I'm going to be true to myself, then this is the way I'm going to have to live -- it's not an option . . ."

-- "Another aspect perhaps of 'why' is I've always had problems dealing with and interaction with people and it created a lot of tension when I had to do that in school and work and all. And the time I spent with my companions [animals] was relaxing and helped me deal, and unwind, and deal with tension . . ."

I asked about the need for intellectual stimulation for those who prefer animals as sex partners.

-- "I have a social group, social peers I hang out with, that satisfy my desire for deep meaningful conversation if I choose to engage in it."

-- "I don't think any of us here are total recluses to the point where we only interact with the animals and don't really have any interest in other humans.

-- "I'm sure there are plenty of people who are married to paraplegics or people with various motor nervous disorders that can't speak, can't talk back to them . . . I'm saying that there are people who are married to companions, or have companions that, they are not capable of having high-level, intellectual conversations."

-- "I know humans who you can't have high-level conversations with (laughter)."

-- "And animals can be intellectually as challenging on their own . . ."

-- "It's intellectually challenging to take care of a horse, you know, to understand it and understand its needs."

-- "We all have to interact with society and we have our jobs, or school, or your family life . . ."

-- "It's a separate thing. You go one place for one thing and you go to the other place for the other thing and it becomes a natural part of your life where you don't even think about it anymore . . ."

-- "I think that there's something definitely missing in a zoo relationship . . . everything about my dog is, I think is fabulous. But I can't get the kind of, you know, private communication, and the kind of, you know, like spiritual type communication that you can get from another person . . . it's a completely different style of, it's completely different. I mean, I can't even describe it. It's like comparing apples to oranges. The two aren't the same . . . I think to be, or at least for me, to be complete, I need both of those . . ."

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