On March 5th (depending on your time zone), a Twitter account named Pup Davey (NSFW) tweeted out a poll asking two questions. Are you a Furry, and do you think animals can consent? The poll went on for a week, and in the duration managed to get 16,451 votes. To a lot of people, the results were pretty surprising. 
19.7% (3,240 people) said they were furries and that animals CANNOT consent.
26.1% (4,293 people) said they were NOT furries and that animals CAN consent.
26.3% (4,326 people) said they were furries and that animals CAN consent.
27.9% (4,589 people) said they were NOT furries and that animals CANNOT consent.
If you do some quick math here, you can work out that 52.4% of respondents, or 8,619 people, said that animals are able to consent. 
So that's it right? We won? Break out the champagne and start making statues of our new overlord Aqua in all their triumphant blue orbyness? 
Well, no. Not exactly.
Today, I want to talk about possibly one of the most boring subjects I could possibly talk about in an article that's supposed to be a quick, light and fun read. Statistics. But, to make sure you're not closing out of the tab already, I want to explain why it's important. So please, throw on some Subway Surfer in the bottom of the screen and let's dive in. 
(also sorry to everyone over 25 that doesn't get that joke I just know you'll read it anyway okay thanks) 
So, here's why stats are important. Numbers can tell the truth, but that doesn't stop people from using numbers to lie. Think about it like this. Say that an ice cream company was conducting a poll on whether or not vanilla ice cream objectively made people's day better. They come back and find that, startlingly, 90% of people say yes, ice cream improved their day. If you take that at face value, that's a pretty damn good argument that everyone should be eating at least a bowl a day. But what if we get into more details? Say that they conducted that poll on a super hot summer day at the beach, where they were set up outside. Say they were giving everyone that voted a scoop of ice cream, and then asking them afterwards whether it made their day better. Say that ice cream was free, and given out by a very charming sales person who was quick and witty and made a joke or two to get people laughing before asking. 
This example is VERY basic, but the point that I'm trying to get across here is that while numbers themselves don't lie, the context around those numbers is just as important, if not even more so! If you asked different people at a different time, in a different setting, the numbers that you get would be really likely to change. Say you asked it in the middle of winter, or to a group of lactose intolerant people. 
So, we get that context matters, but why does context matter to *you*, the person reading this. Well, because stats are everywhere. And everyone is going to be using them to try and sway your opinion. The ice cream company is aware of this fact, and so would only ever run such an experiment in the perfect situation, therefore leading to the most biased results, but ones that are undeniably "voted for by the people" to the standards that any advertising board of ethics would allow.
As you're reading this, you're probably thinking to yourself "Well yeah, that's obvious. Basic common sense." But here's the issue. Our brains are very stupid sometimes. It's easy for them to get tricked into feeling a certain way. And this is something that's exploited heavily by people looking for shock value and social media attention. Fox News could go to San Francisco, the city in the US with the highest percentage of LGBT people, and ask random young people at the park whether or not they're queer, and then publish a SHOCKING REPORT saying that 30% OF YOUNG PEOPLE ARE QUEER and all the old republicans sitting at home in Kansas and West Virginia would gasp and say "What is the world coming to!?" even if that's very much not reflective of the numbers that actually exist around them. Similarly, a reporter with CNN could go to Arizona (ranked the most racist state apparently), and ask old people whether or not they're racist. Then, they could run the same story where SHOCKING REPORT 50% OF OLD PEOPLE ARE RACIST and all the young democrats sitting at home in California and New York gasp and say whatever the kids are saying to exclaim surprise nowadays. 
But neither of those realities are actually true. Yes more people are identifying as queer than back in the day, and yes there are old racist people in some places, but the nuanced take is rarely the one that gets the most attention. 
Which brings it back to us. It would be VERY easy for us here at the magazine to take the fact that 52.4% of people in this poll said that animals can consent and run with it. Start screaming from the rooftops that actually the majority of people think that animals can consent. But that's not really true. And I think that by trying to say that that's reflective of the general population, we'd be doing a disservice to you, the readers. So instead, I want to take a look at why these numbers are so strongly in favor of animal consent (if you consider a very slight majority to even be strong to begin with), and what we can actually take away from this. 
Let's start with the part I personally find the funniest. The cope. Some people on Twitter will try and provide justifications as to why these results are totally invalid. The most common is that zoos "Shared the poll more" to influence the votes. But the numbers don't really add up there. Out of 55 quote tweets, 11 were by pro zoo accounts, and 43 were from neutral to anti zoo accounts. There may have been more, but any other accounts had me blocked, and considering non-zoos are much more likely to have me blocked than zoos I think the point still stands. The VAST majority of people who spread the content were in fact, not zoos. And even if pro zoo accounts retweeted it, I don't think even the most popular zoos out there have the ability to move 8,000 people into voting. And if you look through the quote tweets, there are a number of specifically anti zoo accounts specifically asking their followers to vote in a specific direction. On the other hand, there are zero zoo quote tweets asking the same of their followers. From what I can tell, the biggest zoo accounts didn't even engage with this tweet at all until it was over. The creator of the poll, Pup Davey, asked that the poll not be shared in any specifically pro or anti spaces. And just from looking at the numbers, one side complied with that request much more than the other.
The other argument I've seen is one of Elon Musk's personal favorites. The "bots." And while technically there's no way of knowing whether or not that's a valid argument, you could say the exact same about the other side and your evidence towards it would be exactly the same. Realistically, it probably wasn't botted either way, but that's always going to be the secret trump card people pull out to squeal their way out of having to face reality, so it's important to at least acknowledge it. 
So, assuming that the results of the poll are real, which we are, what else could have influenced the results? One thing we can look at is who was voting in it. Pup Davey has 224,000 followers on Twitter. That's a pretty huge audience for this kind of poll. But what kinds of people are they? I'll be honest, I'm not sure about the deep cut lore of Davey, but there are a few things that immediately stand out about his content. First of all, as in the name, he's big into puppy play. Puppy play is distinct from the furry fandom, but there's a definitive amount of overlap, so it's probably fair to say that a lot of his audience is furries. Which would make sense considering that 46% of the respondents to the poll identified as furries. We also know that there's a fairly large portion of zoos that don't identify as furries. Especially right now when the topic of zoosexuality is so hostile in that circle. He's also very into fisting and large toy play. His account is very adult oriented, so the people following him have an interest in adult content online. Typically, the kinds of things that he's into skew towards an even more mature nature. Most people just getting into porn or the furry community aren't immediately hopping into the kinds of things that he's creating, so we can also venture a guess that this audience is somewhat older. 
Let's have a quick Vaush moment here. When it comes to creating art, the best way to find inspiration is to look at the natural world around us. So when toy makers are trying to think of fun ideas for toys, naturally they end up looking at all the very beautiful dicks that already exist. And when you get into the realm of size play, there's one species that takes the cake. Horses. If you're looking for the biggest of the biggest, but something that is also still on a scale humans can interact with, that's where you go. By no means am I implying that everyone that likes big toys is a zoophile, but I would hazard a guess that people that are into that kind of content are also more likely to have seen drawn porn of people having sex with others that have animal penises, and possibly just with animals themselves. That could be totally wrong, but in my limited experience with that community it does seem to be a common trend. And I did get a few friends more involved than me to cosign this sentiment just to be sure. 
So, like we said before, a large piece of Pupper Davey's audience is puppies, who share a big overlap with furries, who are much more into animals by nature, and large toy people, who might be more inclined to at least have thought about it more than the average Joe. In a sense, his audience is the most zoo adjacent any audience could be without actually having a zeta in their name. If there was a way to only get results from people that follow him and his content, I would actually expect the results to be more strongly pro consent. Although again, that's just a guess.
We should also spend some time talking about timing. The time this poll was put out is also really relevant. A week or so before the poll, a popular furry AD creator named Cenny released a very interesting video about zoophilia. This article is long enough, I don't want to break down everything they said, but their video had over 400k views on Twitter, and more on other platforms. Cenny was the talk of the town, and had a number of people debating which other large furries might also be zoophiles. Because of that, more attention was on the issue. Davey even references this in his original poll, starting off his tweet with "The past few days the 'debate' on zoophilia has sparked massively in the furry fandom." This means two things for the results. First of all, the environment was much more charged for this kind of conversation, and more people that would not normally engage with it felt like the should to be involved. The other factor is that for the first time in a long time a lot of the sentiment around this topic was positive, if not at least neutral, and so people that maybe would have felt like replying was pointless may have felt more empowered to vote. 
Let me make something clear. I'm not trying to discount the results by any means. I think it's wonderful to see! But what I'm trying to highlight is that this was in a lot of ways a perfect storm. Someone who had a furry and furry adjacent following who were already primed to like animals who asked the question while zoos were already in the spotlight in a way that wasn't entirely negative. 
So, with all that in mind, what can we still take away from this? Because I think there is still a lot to be learned. 
Something I haven't mentioned yet is that Pup Davey actually released his own video talking about the results of this poll. And, to be honest, I think he did a really phenomenal job talking about the statistics. In fact, we talk about a number of the same points. His conclusion to the video is (in summation) this: There is a large percentage of the population that believes that animals being unable to consent is common sense. But clearly, if 16,451 people vote in a poll and 52.4% say that they can, the issue isn't so "common sense" at the end of the day. Yes there are factors to consider about audience and timing and everything else, but there's no taking away from the fact that 8,619 people believe that animals are able to consent. But, if you look at this topic in the cultural milieu, there are VERY few people speaking out about that belief.
Let's talk about the final, and in my opinion most important aspect to this poll. It was anonymous. This was people's real feelings on the topic without any worry about repercussions from their response. Being attracted to animals is scary. I've written whole articles about how terrifying it is to be who I am where I am. And even if you're not a zoo, just supporting us can get you a lot of heat and backlash as well. Look at any time researchers study the zoo community. In a recent interview with Zooier Than Thou, Dr. Alexandra Zidenberg mentioned that because she put out a study sampling zoos, she started receiving hate and death threats online. If this poll was public, the results probably would have been 95-5 that animals can't consent. If you (as a non zoo) took a film crew out to the local park and asked people whether they thought animals are able to consent, nearly everyone would say no. 
What this poll shows us, is that that might not be reality. 
Before queer acceptance took off, there were plenty of people that were either gay themselves, or tolerant of gay people, that would still say homophobic things to fit in and avoid backlash. Not everyone has the time or energy to be visibly against social norms. Especially when it seems so negatively pervasive. Not everyone is willing to risk their family, their job, their life, just to dissent with the commonly held opinion. Hell, even me, someone I think most people would consider fairly invested in the zoo community, uses a fake name and takes great care not to have my personal and private lives mix. 
But what if "common sense" wasn't so common? I don't believe 52.4% of the general population believes animals can consent, even if they were asked anonymously. But what if it's 20%? 25%? That's still better than I ever would have guessed before this poll came out. I think the most real likelihood is that over 50% of people don't care at all, to be honest. What this poll does is give me hope that we won't actually need to work as hard as we all imagine to start changing opinions and building a base of support for our cause. 
The final point Davey makes in his video is that there needs to be more conversations about this topic, and on that we absolutely agree. That's something I've always been calling for. Zoos are here and we're here to say. Hell, we've always been here. Maybe it's worth actually taking the time to learn about who we really are, what we really believe. Because there might be more people that agree with us than you think. 
Article written by Tarro (April 2024) 
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