When spending too much time in toxic spaces like Twitter or high school, it can be easy to think that the public perception of zoosexuality is bleak. It can seem like a topic that isn’t safe to broach with even our most understanding friends, lest we test even their limits and end up losing that friendship; or worse, having them expose your secret to everyone. Certainly, such a thing is in the realm of the possible, and it’s frightening to think that we can’t put the genie back in the bottle once it’s out. But as easy as it is to jump to doomerism and worst case scenarios, the public consciousness may be a lot more friendly to zoosexuality than some people on the internet would have you believe. As long as the subject of animal romance is approached within certain parameters, the majority of people will hardly bat an eye at seeing it.
One space where animal romance is highly normalized is in cartoons. You can turn on the tube and see shows like My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic having entire episodes centred around horse-on-horse romance, such as when three of the little ponies try to set up a date between their teacher and one of their older brothers. One of the defining traits of the dragon character Spike is that he has a crush on one of the pony characters named Rarity. There are even instances of same-sex background ponies holding hands! Holding hooves? In any case, it’s implied that they are together.
Does My Little Pony feature explicit depictions of animals doing the deed? No, of course not, it’s a television show for children. But by the same token, this is a show, for children, that quite regularly depicts animals in love with each other. The fact that a lot of writers on a mainstream network were able to get together and come up with these arcs, able to get together animators and voice actors to make it a reality, and then were able to broadcast it internationally to an audience of children, and have it be received as a major success that lasted nine seasons and got a movie, I think speaks a lot to how, in some presentations, nobody is revolted at the idea of animals being interested in romance.
Of course there are mitigating factors with the My Little Pony example. It’s animals being in love with each other, not with humans; the animals are talking animals with ‘human intelligence,’ and so it’s easy enough to say that they’re just writing the show with themes and stories that human characters would also reasonably go through. But they certainly look like equines and they certainly have an appreciable amount of equine mannerisms, even mixed in among the human-ish traits, and so it should at least be fair to say, “It’s not zoo, but it’s not wholly divorced from zooey ideas either.”
There also isn’t a shortage of cartoon animal characters being more directly sexualized. Nala from The Lion King, Lola from Space Jam, and Nick Wilde from Zootopia all have character designs that, to varying degrees, all read as sexually attractive. Nobody watching the movies in the theatres thinks it’s that weird. And in Family Guy, we see the talking dog character Brian has relations with non-talking regular dogs and with humans interchangeably, which is about as zooey as zooey could be. Animalistic sexuality, within certain parameters and contexts, is not really any kind of a big deal to most regular people.
Another context where animal sexuality finds a comfortable home in the mainstream is with humor. If you’re making a raunchy movie, revealing that somebody is having sex with a goat/sheep/donkey/etc can be an entire joke: “hahaha, dude caught his friend with a goat, hahaha.” You may get people averting their eyes out of embarrassment, but usually not out of moral outrage. A lot of people won’t even avert their eyes, they’ll be all in laughing at the apparent humor. Tongue in cheek references to animal sexuality find their way into our everyday speech: “Hung like a horse” is just a normal mainstream turn of phrase; a lot of regular people know what “red rocket” means.
By and large, when it comes to animal sexuality, people kinda get it. If someone thinks that horses are all sexless chaste creatures whose only interest is carrying us around, it really speaks to how little they’ve been around horses. But I don’t think that that obliviousness describes most people. if you were to poll people on the street, more people than not could probably tell you where foals come from.
It’s anecdotal, but for me, another optimistic thing is to see is how nonchalant people’s reactions have been when I’ve come out to them as a zoophile. I’m heartened by the number of times someone’s first reaction is to bring up consent, but in a supportive light: “Oh, sure. I don’t have a problem with that kind of stuff, as long as all parties are consenting, and I don’t think that that’s an issue, especially knowing you and your dog.” The fact that they bring up consent speaks to the fact that they care about the animal in the matter, which I love, and the fact that they immediately have a positive outlook on animals being able to consent speaks to the fact that most people know zoophobes are full of shit, which I also love.
It is certainly also true that I don’t come out to everyone in the world. There have been a couple of times where I’ve sussed someone out with zoo-adjacent humor, they reacted to it with hahaha, then I kinda inched more towards “but really that stuff is fine though,” and they had a disappointingly negative reaction. It’s much more rare than the first case, to be honest, but it does happen, and for that reason it would be irresponsible of me to make it seem like you should go into these things without caution.
On the flip side of that though, I’ve also come out and had people not only outspokenly embrace this part of me, but actually go so far as to share that they’ve had a toe in the water themselves when it comes to zooey relations. Sometimes that just means that they experimented with animals a small number of times when they were figuring out their own sexuality, and ultimately that wasn’t really where it was at for them, but it did happen. Sometimes instead someone shares a story about how much an animal in their own life meant to them at some point, a deep emotional bond whereby they can understand how wanting to be romantic partners with an animal isn’t that much of a leap at all from what they’ve already known.
At the end of the day, you don’t have to feel like the entire world is your enemy for being attracted to animals. The people who are loudly opposed to zoosexuality are fewer in number than they would want you to think. The number of people who don’t care what you and Fido do in the privacy of his dog house are probably the majority of the population. Yes, shitty people are out there, and as a double edged sword, it’s usually not difficult to coax their shitty opinion out of them. But from the folks casually writing about ponies in love, to the folks making casual nods to stallion equipment, there are a lot of perfectly decent people in the world to be found as well.
Article written by an anonymous author (December 2022)
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