By Alex Bollinger reporting for LGBTQ Nation.
Earlier this week, wildlife photographer Paul Goldstein made public photos depicting a sexual encounter between two male lions at a wildlife preserve in Kenya.
Now an official in Kenya is blaming gay tourists for the male-lion-on-male-lion action and calling for the lions to be isolated.
Kenya Film Classification Board (KFCB) chief executive Ezekial Mutua talked with Nairobi News about the lions. “These animals need counseling, because probably they have been influenced by gays who have gone to the national parks and behaved badly.”
Because that’s what gay people do: go to wildlife preserves and have sex while lions are watching. The threat of being devoured is the biggest turn-on.
Part of the KFCB’s job is to censor films. Earlier this week, after it was announced that the Disney Channel show Andi Mack would feature a gay story, the KFCB decided to ban the show.
“When it comes to protecting children from exposure to bad content we are resolute and unapologetic,” Matua said regarding the Andi Mack ban.
Which might explain why he’s blaming gay tourists: he seems to sincerely believe that watching gay love turns the viewer gay.
“I don’t know, they must have copied it somewhere or it is demonic,” he said. “Because animals do not watch movies.”
“I mean where on earth have you ever heard something like this happening? The demonic spirits inflicting humans seem to have now caught up with animals.”
“That is why I will say isolate the crazy gay animals, study their behavior, because it is not normal. The very idea of sex even among animals is for procreation. Two male lions cannot procreate and therefore we will lose the lion species.”
Lions are indeed endangered, but the International Union for the Conservation of Nature blames habitat loss, conflicts with humans, and isolated populations (leading to in-breeding), not gay men cruising wildlife preserves or lion-only Andi Mack screenings.
While his reasoning is bizarre, his views are in-line with his country’s laws. Homosexuality remains illegal in the majority-Christian nation, carrying a prison sentence of up to fourteen years.
So it’s understandable that he wouldn’t have much of an idea of why some people or lions are gay. Still, he is in a position of power and the decisions he makes affect attitudes toward LGBTQ Kenyans, and he has no excuse in the age of the internet for not educating himself.
Then, in another article, Craig Packer, the director of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota claims this is not homosexual behavior. Me myself? I think the director doth protest too much….
A photograph of two male lions seemingly in an amorous embrace has some humans clutching their pearls.
After the release of the photograph, taken in August at Kenya’s Masai Mara National Reserve, Ezekiel Mutua, the chief executive of the Kenya Film Classification Board, blamed humans (or maybe demons) for the male-on-male mounting.
“[P]robably, they have been influenced by gays who have gone to the national parks and behaved badly,” Mutua told Nairobi News, before suggesting that the lions be isolated and studied because the “demonic spirits inflicting in humans seem to have now caught up with animals.”
The actual story behind the photograph shows that Mutua got some things wrong. The mounting behavior isn’t actually sexual. And the official jumped the gun on attributing human motivations to animal behavior, experts said.
“It’s rare, it’s not really sexual and it tells us a lot more about those officials in Kenya and their homophobia than anything else,” Craig Packer, the director of the Lion Research Center at the University of Minnesota, told Live Science. “It’s a bizarre overreaction.”
This isn’t the first time two lions have been seen in a same-sex embrace. In March 2016, another photographer snapped a male mounting and humping another male in Botswana.
The latest pictures were taken by Paul Goldstein, a British guide for Exodus Travels, who said the lions first stood side by side, and then one lay down and was mounted by the other. The lions stayed that way for over a minute, Goldstein said in a caption accompanying the photo.
“Even as he dismounted, he did not back off as is normal after mating. He crept round to the other male’s muzzle, for a nuzzle, and threw a conspiratorial wink his way,” Goldstein said.
This sequence is fairly similar to what was described in Botswana, where the two lions spent a long time in the mating position. But in both cases, these lions aren’t mating, Packer said. When male lions mate, they zealously guard a receptive female for days at a time, having sex every half-hour or so and refusing to let any other males come near the female. A male lion ejaculates almost immediately upon inserting his penis into the female, Packer said, and accompanies his ejaculation with a particular yowl.
The male-on-male behavior in Kenya was nothing like that, and the male on top didn’t ejaculate, Packer said.
Instead, the photograph captures a rare moment of social bonding between male lions. These lions spend their lives trying to reproduce. To up their odds, they work together in small groups of two, three or more males, called coalitions. These groups cooperate to drive off rival males and take over prides of females, killing any babies fathered by previous males, Packer said. Long-term studies dating back to the 1970s show that lions who manage to become part of a coalition, particularly a larger one, get more access to females and ultimately produce more surviving offspring than other individuals.
Coalition males are typically affectionate with each other, Packer said. They’ll flop down on each other, lick each other and rub each other’s faces. On rare occasions, they’ll display the mounting behavior that Goldstein witnessed. It seems to be a way to smooth over social tensions. The same sort of behavior occurs in baboons and many other social mammals, Packer said. Female lions do it too, he added.
“It’s a social interaction that has nothing to do with sexual pleasure,” he said.
Original article on Live Science.