Studies on just how common feelings of animal attraction are can be a difficult undertaking. For one thing, you are asking people to self report on things that they may consider to be very sensitive information, and that they may feel guarded about. The wording of the question can matter a lot too: someone may not have the same answer if you were to ask “Are you sexually attracted to animals?” vs “Do you sometimes have fantasies involving sexual contact with animals?” or even, “Do you ever view videos, drawings, or erotic stories depicting bestiality?” These all sound like they’re getting at the same question–”Are you zoosexual?”–but somebody taking such a survey may feel very cautious about how they interpret these things, and have a train of thought like, “Well no I’m not attracted to animals-animals I wouldn’t do anything like that in real life, but oh yes it is a big fantasy of mine, and maybe I do from time to time view videos that I’m glad someone else made, even though again, of course that doesn’t make ME a zoo, although well there was that one time with the dog but that was just experimenting…”
So your mileage may vary depending on how the survey was done. But, at this point we do actually have a pretty respectable number of studies that have attempted to find out the prevelancy of zooiness–just how many people in the world have that extra little bit of fondness towards nonhuman animals? The number that scientists seem to keep ariving at is somewhere around 7%, putting it at about as common as other interests under the LGBTQ+ umbrella.
And guess what? That means it’s someone that you know. Maybe someone really important to you.
It’s easy to look at a single digit percentage, just a mere 7%, and mentally round that down. “It’s not FIFTY, for goodness sakes! What are the odds?” But let’s break down the odds a little further. In the United States, about 7% of people are Asian–have you seen an Asian person before? About 5% of people are children under the age of five years old–have you ever seen an infant? How many people do you work with in your job? Dozens? How many people did you go to school with? Hundreds?
When a minority is forced to be invisible, it can seem easy to think that they don’t exist, or that they somehow exist “somewhere else.” But zoos are very much around. You just don’t think you see us because by default, it’s often safer for us to blend in. But there are active zoos making your food at McDonalds, stocking your shelves at Walmart, acting on your favorite show, developing your favorite video games–the list could go on for as many occupations as there are in the world.
If you’re a zoo and reading this, know you’re not as alone as it may have felt at times. If you’re an ally and reading this, know that even casual nods towards zoo positivity could mean a lot to an unsuspecting zooey listener. And if you’re an anti and reading this, ponder whether you would be as hotheaded if it were your best friend. Because, while the odds aren’t fifty fifty, they’re higher than you think.
Article written by Alissa Dogchurch (March 2023)
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