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Animal Sex

April 3, 2007

A listener asks: Do animals have sex for pleasure?


Are animals all business? I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Birds do it; bees do it; but do they enjoy it? That’s what Jonathan Headings of Tallahassee, Florida wants to know. We asked evolutionary biologist Olivia Judson, author of Dr. Tatiana’s Sex Advice to All Creation.

Absolutely, yes, other organisms do have sex for pleasure. It’s a little bit difficult to tell sometimes, because it’s hard to ask a cockroach, "So, how was that for you?"

She says many animals engage in sex they know can’t result in offspring. Dolphins, for example:

Males have been seen sometimes having—trying to have sex with sharks, turtles, seals and eels.

And many animals have individuals who prefer mating with members of their own sex, even when opposite sex partners are available.

If you’re curious about biology, or any area of science, call us at 1-800-WHY-ISIT. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.