By Andy Coghaln. Oh deer! A male Japanese macaque monkey has been caught in the act of trying to mate with two Sika deer by leaping on their backs, rodeo-style. But when he tried it with a second deer, she did her best to shake him off. In the s, forest rangers reported orphan elephants attempting to mate with rhinos , and in footage was taken of a chimpanzee attempting to mate with a frog. In , there were reports of sea otters attempting to mate with cormorants. Also in , an Antarctic fur seal was observed attempting to mate with king penguins, some of which he subsequently ate. In this latest example, on Yakushima Island south of Japan, the perpetrator was a young male macaque — one of the more peripheral members of a larger group. This means he was probably frustrated by not having a mate. The deer also seem to tolerate periodic attempts by the monkeys to ride on their backs, which may explain the mating attempts.
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These apes supposedly have inordinate amounts of sex and never fight. Can this appealing story really be true? Reputation: Bonobos are miniature, sharing, caring chimps, living in hippie communes with no aggression and lots of sex. Reality: Not really. Bonobos are roughly the same size as chimps, can be aggressive and use sex in very specific contexts. Bonobos Pan paniscus used to be known as "pygmy chimpanzees", a designation that served to distinguish them from regular chimps Pan troglodytes. But the difference in body size is small — only a matter of a few kilograms — and it certainly is not the most interesting difference between the species. Takayoshi Kano was one of the first to document the central position of females in bonobo society. But their appearance is not the thing that really sets bonobos apart from chimps.
Most humans don't expect all sex to be procreative. There are so, so many ways in which consenting adults can conspire to get freaky without making babies. We're not the only species that enjoys sex as more than a means to an evolutionary end. Bonobos practically build their peaceful and matriarchal society on the exchange of sexual favors. There are gay creatures all over the animal kingdom. Scientists even caught brown bears engaging in oral sex. Even if you're uncomfortable with the idea, there are a lot of animal sexual shenanigans in the world. And sometimes they happen between totally different species. A recent study in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior highlights a newly-discovered instance of interspecies intercourse in central Japan: apparently, adolescent female Japanese macaques have taken to mounting sika deer. They think it could be the start of a new social trend, with young macaques females—who are known to mount one another in a sexual fashion—gradually picking up the idea that sika stags can provide release.