The photo you see was taken by Nicole Cambre, a Belgian lawyer and photographer in 2016. It shows two African lions in Botswana embracing.
But if you look closely, you’ll quickly notice something unusual: These two lions have manes. That means they are all male lions.
“It’s the first time I’ve seen a lion act gay“, said Cambre.Around the area where the male lion is located, there is a female lion. But the two male lions showed no interest in him. It looks like the lioness is pregnant.”
As soon as the photo was published by Cambre, it caused a stir in the press and netizens. The Daily Mail that day snatched the caption: “This must be gay pride!Meanwhile, one Twitter user wrote:There is nothing wrong with homosexuality. Even lions are gay” has received a lot of support.
National Geographic, a natural science documentary channel, is joining soon. They called Kathleen Alexander, an African ligologist, to ask if the lions had a homosexual relationship?
Alexander spent 20 years working in Botswana, but to his surprise, he said he had never seen an interaction between two male lions.
“I would say, most likely a lioness with a mane“, explains Alexander. Virilization in lionesses can occur for a variety of reasons, from sperm disorders to hormonal problems during pregnancy.
If the mother lioness during pregnancy has high androgens – male hormones such as testosterone, she is more likely to give birth to male cubs.
However, Cambre later rejected this hypothesis. He posted a series of photos, mainly 3 videos documenting the gay relationship of two male lions.
In the video, the anatomical features clearly support these two male lions. And their behavior is the right move.”build” like being in a relationship.
Two other male lions caught cuddling
A year after the Cambre photo, British tour guide Paul Goldstein continues to photograph a pair of male lions embracing in Kenya.
These photos once again support the theory that male lions have a homosexual relationship. Goldstein described their behavior: At first, two lions stood side by side, then one lay down and the other rode. The two lions stayed in that position for about 1 minute.
“Even when descending, the male lion above did not back down like a male lion mating with a female lion. Instead, he crept into the muzzle of another man, headbutted him, and winked in conspiracy.“, said Goldstein.
In fact, same-sex sexual behavior including courtship, mating, lovemaking, and co-parenting has been documented in more than 450 different animal species worldwide.
However, according to Professor Craig Packer, a leading expert on African lions at the University of Minnesota, USA, lions are only involved in them to a certain extent. They don’t actually have sexual contact. “This is bromance, not Brokeback Mountain‘ said Professor Packer.
bromance is friendship, a close but non-sexual relationship between two or more men. Meanwhile, Brokeback Mountain which Professor Packer mentioned is a film about two gay men.
He said that in the world of lions, male lions often form alliances of 2-4 cubs to survive. This male-male alliance competes with other alliances and competes for a female lion mate.
The stronger the alliance, the greater their chances of surviving and reproducing with more offspring. The result after forming an alliance is that these male lions are often very close to each other.
Professor Packer looks at Cambre’s photo and video clip of two male lions in Botswana. “That scene is so cute“, he said. But in his experience, Professor Packer says these two lions are not really “marriage”.
In particular, male lions during mating will guard their partners very closely and often mate many times in succession. After ejaculation, they will make a very special call.
Professor Packer tries to find the cry in Cambre’s video, but to no avail. Therefore, according to him, the two male lions are getting closer than usual.
Male lions would sometimes do so when they wanted to strengthen an alliance, or when they were in a mood with no females around. They can fall on top of each other, lick each other, rub each other’s faces. In rare cases, the male will perform the behavior “build“It’s like sex, but men don’t actually ejaculate.
Professor Packer said this behavior has also been observed in baboons and many other mammals. The lioness does the same with the lioness. “It’s just a social interaction that doesn’t involve sexual pleasure“, he concluded.