Homosexual behavior has been observed in wild gorillas for the first time.

gorilla_640x345_acf_cropped22 female gorillas were observed in the Volcanoes National Park in a study led by Dr. Cyril Grueter, associate professor of UWA’s School of Anatomy, which found that 18 out of the 22 female gorillas observed engaged in same-sex behavior.  The fact that this behavior occurred in the wild as opposed to captivity, which is where it has been observed in the past, tells us that this is part of their natural behavior.

Grueter observed that the female gorillas engaged in “genial closeness and genial rubbing.” Grueter was able to capture some photographs during his observations. Paul Vasey of the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, Canada, says, “Some hold onto each other with their limbs using a “double foot clasp mount”, while others sit on top of their mates in a sort of jockey-style position.”

This led Grueter to 3 hypothesis to explain the behavior; the gorillas may be asserting dominance, strengthening social bonds, or restoring relationships. Grueter stated that “None of the three hypotheses received any consistent support.” Other explanations were considered, such as the females initiating sex with another female after the male showed no interest; this served as a way to fulfill their needs.

It’s important to remember that homosexual behavior has been observed in other animals as well, such as bears, elephants, and sheep, just to name a few. This has been found in both male and female animals. Despite the recent debates, science has shown that it is perfectly normal. The study of homosexual behavior in gorillas could give us insight into this behavior in humans as well. This tells us how natural it is in both humans and animals. It’s something to consider studying further — and should help silence those who believe homosexuality is a “choice” rather than something inherent.