More from Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl. Giraffes are the tallest mammals, up to 19 feet/5.8m tall. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, including Kenya, Tanzania and the Transvaal.
Female Giraffes generally live in groups of up to fifteen individuals, including their calves and sometimes a few juvenile males. Adult males live in “bachelor” groups, but become increasingly solitary as they age. These older males may mate with multiple females, but play no part in the raising of the calves. Giraffes are sexually mature before they’re four years old, but have little interest in females at that age. Once they’ve had their heterosexual flings after they’re eight years old, most males “retire” alone.
Male Giraffe courtship is unique, because it involves the long necks they’re famous for. When “necking”, two males stand beside each other for up to an hour and gently rub their necks on each other’s body, head, neck, loins and thighs.
Giraffe (Giraffa camelopardis)
Homosexuality: Female & Male Behaviours: Courtship, Affectionate, Sexual Ranking: Primary Observed: Wild
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The Giraffes sometimes swing their necks gently at each other in a kind of dance or play fight. This necking and dancing usually leads to sexual arousal and erections. Sometimes they orgasm just from necking, at other times they mount each other. A male in a group may mount several individuals in succession, or the same male up to three times in a row. One study showed that 94% of all observed sexual activity was homosexual. One Giraffe population was observed in detail for 3,200 hours but there was only one heterosexual mating ever seen. Males participating in homosexual mounting and necking will completely disregard available females who are in heat. It’s only as male and female Giraffes age that a relatively small number of them take part in heterosexuality and reproduction. Younger females in heat sometimes mount male calves in their group.
Next time on Gay Animal Fortnight… Cruised by Dolphins.
Original Giraffe image from Wikipedia Commons.