More from Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity by Bruce Bagemihl. Unfortunately the appealing and somewhat internet famous Japanese Macaques are an endangered species. In the wild they live in forests and on mountainsides. I met a load of these Macaques who live at Arashiyama near Kyoto. They’re about a meter (3 feet) long. Their groups are between 20-100 strong. In large numbers they were more terrifying than adorable. I particularly remember a viewing area where it was safer and more practical to cage the humans and let the monkeys grip the mesh to look in.
Female Macaques form “consortships”, temporary but exclusive pair bonds based on mutual sexual attraction. The two females spend every possible moment together once they’ve bonded. There are seven different sexual positions in homosexual copulation, and they most definitely use them all. Females will actively compete and fight with Macaques of both sexes for access to their chosen female partners. Heterosexual partnerships rarely last beyond the mating season, and the homosexual consortships don’t last more than a few weeks either although unlike the heterosexual partners the female couple will remain friends. In effect female Macaques are serially monogamous. Incest is taboo, but consortships may otherwise be between females of any age.
Japanese Macaque (Macaca fuscata)
Homosexuality: Female & Male Behaviours: Courtship, Affectionate, Sexual, Pair-bonding Ranking: primary Observed: Wild, Semiwild, Captivity
(See It’s Gay Animal Fortnight for an explanation of this box.)
Male Macaques sometimes mount each other, though they don’t form any kind of partnership. They may have preferred male partners, but generally speaking they just stick it wherever they can.
Interestingly, there seem to be cultural differences between different troops of monkeys. Homosexual activity can be found in all of them, but it’s more prevalent in some than it is in others. Some troops lean towards bisexuality, while others have definite (I suppose you could say “out”) lesbians among them. The most active males in homosexuality are also the most active in heterosexual encounters, so it’s probably fair to say they’re just more sexual than other Macaques and not orientated in any particular way. Non-reproductive heterosexual intercourse is common outside of the mating season. Males have a mating season just as females do, and out of season they don’t ejaculate even though they still have sex. About 10% of Macaques form asexual or celibate partnerships. These pairs never have sex with each other, although they sometimes do so with other Macaques. A remarkable non-Human example of “I like you, but not in that way…”
And finally, from the DO NOT WANT department, while older males sometimes take care of infants with the consent of the mothers, and they do a very good job of it… there are a few Macaque kiddy-fiddlers who play the caring uncle so they can surreptitiously masturbate with or penetrate the infants. If they were human they’d be P.E. teachers, football coaches, or priests.
Next time on Gay Animal Fortnight… hot Manatee on Manatee action.
Original Macaque image from Wikipedia Commons.