Two male lions have been seen copulating at a Yorkshire zoo in the UK by a visitor, raising familiar arguments about the prevalence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom.
The photos of the incident, caught by amateur wildlife photographer Russ Bridges, also show a female lion nearby who appears to be unfussed by the two male lions going at it next to her.
The Gay Lions of Doncaster England ladies and Gentlemen pic.twitter.com/4nf93bCjDs— Tracey (@misfitstylinson) August 29, 2017
Bridges' photos of the rare sighting went viral this week, with social media users commenting on the apparent joy experienced by the two lions, especially in one image that captures a yawn while one of the lions is mounted.
"A fair few people were watching this going on and laughing - they were all commenting on what it looked like," Bridges told The Daily Mail.
A group of gay lions is called a gay pride.— Broquito (@Broquitos) August 30, 2017
"I think it was a bit of a 'should have gone to Specsavers' moment as the lioness was just lying there next to them. In fairness, though, every time a male went near her she snarled and swiped their faces with her paw.
This is so adorable. Two male lions seen being together.— 🐼 KERY 🐼 (@KeryJay89) August 29, 2017
Gay.....? 😝 pic.twitter.com/UaeB3PElVX
"It's not really unusual for them to act that way sometimes. I don't know if it's a dominance thing or something like that - it looks as if they are aggressive, but it's all play between friends," Bridges said.
A similar encounter was captured last summer in northern Botswana, reported National Geographic, but a zoologist insisted it wasn't two males, but rather a female lion with a mane.
"If a lion mother had abnormally high androgens during pregnancy, her female offspring may end up 'masculinised," the zoologist says. "[It's] a situation that occurs occasionally in people, but that is rarely observed in wild animals."