Academic says gay animals overlooked

Feb. 9, 2013 at 6:35 PM
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LONDON, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- A British academic says documentaries by David Attenborough are not a true reflection of nature because they do not show animals' "homosexual" behavior.

In a paper recently published in the European Journal of Cultural Studies, Dr. Brett Mills of the University of East Anglia accused Attenborough of portraying all animals as heterosexual despite a wealth of evidence they engage in a variety of sexual activity, The Daily Telegraph reported.

"The central role in documentary stories of pairing, mating and raising offspring commonly rests on assumptions of heterosexuality within the animal kingdom," Mills wrote. "This is despite a wealth of scientific evidence which demonstrates that many non-human species have complex and changeable forms of sexual activity, with heterosexuality only one of many possible options."

Mills noted that Attenborough's voice-over-style documentaries play a key role in telling viewers how to make sense of what they have seen.

In one of Attenborough's documentaries cited in the paper, male chimpanzees are shown fighting for dominance before embracing each other while one is behind the other.

"The voice-over states, 'After a quarrel they embrace one another, to re-establish their bonds of friendship,'" Mills wrote. "Yet reading such a moment as merely an 'embrace' ignores alternative possible interpretations, despite the ample evidence of primate homosexuality."

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