Homosexual behavior discovered among wild orangutans

December 06, 2001

NEW YORK - A researcher from the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has observed homosexual behavior among orangutans in Sumatra, marking the first time scientists have witnessed this activity among wild populations of these critically endangered great apes. The researcher, Dr. ElizaBeth Fox, who has studied orangutans since 1994, published her observations in last month's American Journal of Primatology.

"These observations add orangutans to the list of primates that demonstrate homosexual behavior as part of their natural repertoire of social and sexual behavior," said Dr. Fox. During her long-term study of orangutans in Sumatra, Dr. Fox observed only four orangutans demonstrating homosexual behavior, which indicates that the behavior is rare. All four were males, two of them sexually mature, and two adolescents. Dr. Fox also observed the two sexually mature males mate with adult females. Previously, homosexual behavior was only witnessed among captive orangutans or rehabilitated animals that have come in close contact with humans, according to the study. Other great apes also observed engaging in homosexual behavior include male mountain gorillas, female and male pygmy chimpanzees (bonobos), and humans.

Throughout the wild, orangutans - the only great ape native to Asia, besides man - are vanishing due to habitat loss, and poaching for the pet trade. Indonesia in particular has been the scene of rampant illegal logging of orangutan habitat, prompting some scientists to predict the species' demise in the wild within ten years. "It's disheartening that we're only now beginning to learn of the full range of behavior among these highly intelligent animals, yet they are vanishing faster than any time in history," Fox said.
-end-


Wildlife Conservation Society

Related Behavior Articles from Brightsurf:

Variety in the migratory behavior of blackcaps
The birds have variable migration strategies.

Fishing for a theory of emergent behavior
Researchers at the University of Tsukuba quantified the collective action of small schools of fish using information theory.

How synaptic changes translate to behavior changes
Learning changes behavior by altering many connections between brain cells in a variety of ways all at the same time, according to a study of sea slugs recently published in JNeurosci.

I won't have what he's having: The brain and socially motivated behavior
Monkeys devalue rewards when they anticipate that another monkey will get them instead.

Unlocking animal behavior through motion
Using physics to study different types of animal motion, such as burrowing worms or flying flocks, can reveal how animals behave in different settings.

AI to help monitor behavior
Algorithms based on artificial intelligence do better at supporting educational and clinical decision-making, according to a new study.

Increasing opportunities for sustainable behavior
To mitigate climate change and safeguard ecosystems, we need to make drastic changes in our consumption and transport behaviors.

Predicting a protein's behavior from its appearance
Researchers at EPFL have developed a new way to predict a protein's interactions with other proteins and biomolecules, and its biochemical activity, merely by observing its surface.

Spirituality affects the behavior of mortgagers
According to Olga Miroshnichenko, a Sc.D in Economics, and a Professor at the Department of Economics and Finance, Tyumen State University, morals affect the thinking of mortgage payers and help them avoid past due payments.

Asking if behavior can be changed on climate crisis
One of the more complex problems facing social psychologists today is whether any intervention can move people to change their behavior about climate change and protecting the environment for the sake of future generations.

Read More: Behavior News and Behavior Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.