Do Animals Rape Humans?

We were talking a while back about apes taking a sexual interest in humans (see the comments following that linked post). As seen in the illustration above, this was a favorite notion of the Victorians. But, as detailed in the comments of this earlier post, there are a few cases of orangutans and other apes taking a sexual interest in humans. 

Captivity--or, more broadly, habituation to humans--is the important factor in all these cases. The one documented rape of a human by an orangutan that I am aware of involved an orang returned to the wild after a captive upbringing. That's the one witnessed by Birute Gildakis, mentioned in the earlier comments. Since that earlier writing, I have re-read Gildakis account in context. It is very clearly a case of forcible copulation. Gildakis also documents the sexual behavior of other captive orangs, including an infant that attempted to insert his penis into the ear of man. Further cases involved orangs seizing human hands and applying them to their own genitals in masturbation. 

With the assistance of Dee and Croconut, I've compiled a few cases relating to animals other than apes. These, too, involve animals habituated to humans. As Dee points out, the incidents can't really be called "rape" because non-humans presumably don't share our morals and intentions. 

First, here's video of a dolphin becoming sexually excited by a human female. This is not so uncommon as you'd think, at least in captivity. Dolphins have also attacked men by striking them in the genitals. 

Not for the easily offended, obviously. 
[Edit: Sorry, Youtube has removed this video.]



Here's a news clip and video involving a kakapo, a flightless parrot from New Zealand. 

N. Zealand's 'night parrot' brought back from the brink - Yahoo! News: "The breeding program faced another hurdle when male kakapo became 'imprinted' on their human handlers, meaning they saw them as more likely potential mates than female kakapo.
In the early days of the conservation effort, rangers even wore an outlandish rubber helmet dotted with dimples in an unsuccessful attempt to collect kakapo sperm when males tried to mate with their heads.

British actor Stephen Fry witnessed the kakapo's amorous antics first hand while filming his program Last Chance to See in 2009, when a kakapo named Sirocco took a shine to zoologist Mark Carwardine and began vigorously coupling with his scalp."




In Dublin, Ireland, in April 2012, a stallion attempted to mount a policeman at a fair, to the amusement of onlookers. To judge from videos drifting around the web, the officer escaped with his safety and his virtue intact. 



16 comments:

  1. Lol...interesting topic

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  2. Not the most comfortable topic, but, yeah, interesting. Sexuality is one facet of animal behavior that doesn't get discussed enough, probably because it's so difficult to see beyond our human preconceptions.

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  3. The incident witnessed by Birute Galdikas always creeped me out. I mean, the woman is being raped by a frigging orangutan, and she tells Galdikas that "its ok"?? And then her husband says that the incident is of no importance cuz the rapist was not human?? If I was a woman or a man in their situation, I would be scarred for life! No matter how close orangs are to us, they're still a different species...

    There's plenty of other disturbing but interesting cases like the one in which a female orangutan that had been trained by humans actually invited her male caretaker to have sex with her, and when he refused (I think they communicated via sign language), she was mad at him for a long time and wouldn´t cooperate at all during training seasons...

    Not to speak of the use of female orangs as prostitutes which has to be one of the most disgusting and outrageous things I've ever read...

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  4. In the Galdikas case, it's important to note that both the victim and Galdikas fought the animal with all their strength and sent for help (which didn't arrive in time) before the "It's OK." I think the woman was essentially telling Galdikas not to get herself killed in her defense. So, the book as a whole gives a very different impression than I had from reading only excerpts before. The book also changed my impression of the couple's reaction. I now think they're saying that this incident should be considered an animal attack, like being mauled by a tiger, and not equated with human violence or human sexuality. Which, of course, is vastly different from saying it wasn't traumatic.

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  5. As if rape by a human or animal attack weren´t traumatic, this is a nasty cross between the two...

    I need to read the book. Guess what you say makes more sense than what I had imagined... but is still a nasty thing to imagine. How powerless the woman must have felt...

    What's interesting is that I've never read about gorillas or wild chimps attempting to rape women... know anything about that?
    I only remember that Oliver chimp- once thought to be a possible humanzee- who seemingly was attracted by women upon reaching maturity, but then he was raised by humans and failed to fit in with the rest of chimps...

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  6. So far, I have found no evidence of wild gorillas or chimps taking a sexual interest in humans. One point brought up in Michael Ghiglieri's The Dark Side of Man is that, for orangutans, forcible copulation is a normal occurrence. Partly that's because the males are territorial. The non-dominant males only get to mate by hunting down the females and forcing copulation. (I'm oversimplifying this a bit, but that's the relevant part.)

    That isn't the case for chimpanzees or gorillas. With chimps, the males dominate the females in the troupe through physical intimidation, a dominance that then affects all areas of their society, such as food-sharing. For mating, however, chimps don't generally use force. A female in estrus stands for all the males in the troupe except her own father. (Jane Goodall mentions females preferring not to mate with their own brothers, but acknowledges that it does happen.) Since male chimps achieve all their adult rights largely through intimidation, it makes sense that that's what we mostly see with captives: the chimp beats the human female up, but doesn't rape her. But human females are much weaker and slower than chimp females, so they suffer horrible injuries from an attack that may not have been intended to do real harm.

    One more bit of context from the Galdikas book: This orang that raped the woman had been raised by humans, only recently returned to the wild, and was still being fed by humans. In fact, the attack took place on a feeding platform. (I recommend her book, by the way.) So this seems a strong parallel to Oliver and other captive primates. Having said that, though, zoo orangs do take an interest in human women, even though there may also be female orangs among the captives.

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  7. Have you all seen the Video on You-tube of a young bull that is clearly trying to breed his owner? He mounts and holds the embarrassed man for about two mins. while trying to make an insertion.

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  8. No, I didn't know about that one.. I'll take a look.

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  9. The whole "apes raised by humans are more likely to develop attraction towards them" thing reminds me, I know a girl whose cat was bottle-fed and is extremely dependant on her, psychologically and emotionally; for example, if she leaves for a considerable period of time, the cat goes on a "hunger strike" or even falls sick until she returns and he gets the attention he's used to. As if that wasn´t freaky enough, the cat sometimes tries to mate with her knee when she is laying on bed, mounting it like he would a female cat and even holding an imaginary neck scruff with its teeth... Almost as if the cat was in love with her.

    Then there's also the fact that birds will ignore their own kind and attempt to mate with other species if they were raised by said species without much contact with their own...



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  10. That's interesting. I have heard some amazing cat stories lately. In one, a man returned from abroad after a two-year absence. His tom cat, who had been left with friends, seemed happy to see him. Then the man went away again. This time the cat tore up the friends' house until they let him outdoors. Then he kept running away. The original owner didn't really have a suitable place to keep him, but he ended up taking the cat back anyway simply because it would not stay with anyone else.

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  11. Thats interesting... just yesterday my father shared a story a patient told him, about how her father took the family cat and tried to get rid of her by dumping her far, far away from their home (what a douchebag).
    The cat appeared days later in the front door even though she had no way of knowing where she had been dumped and she had never left home before! Stories like this are very, very common- I've always been fascinated by cats, over 4000 years of coexistence, and we still have so much to learn about them...

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  12. This may be a good time to post Fabre's story of homing instincts in cats, which he thought might be related to the same instinct in bees. See above.

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  13. As bizarre and revolting as it is for us to contemplate, as I think I mentioned a while back, the Romans specifically trained animals to do this--in front of screaming crowds in the arena, as a means of torture and execution. The most unsettling--not to say indicative of the amount of time some trainer must have had on his hands--was that of the Roman contract poisoner, Locusta. After the death of Nero, she was executed in the arena by this brutal method: the animal involved? A bull giraffe.

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  14. Among the items cut from Deadly Animals by my squeamish editor were accounts of men who died after serving as the receptive partner in copulation with horses and pigs. These men were, however, willing participants.

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  15. I have read that during mating season male sea turtles will try to mate with anything, inclding human divers, and allegedly one succeeded.

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