Zoophilia by the Numbers: How Common Is Bestiality? [2022]

Many people don’t want to talk about it, but we’ve collected data on how common bestiality is: what it is, its health risks, and where it’s common. Read on:

The cow goes “moo,” the pig goes “oink,” the horse goes “neigh,” – and the human penis goes nowhere near them

At least it shouldn’t, but it often does. Bestiality has been around as long as humans have been getting aroused, and society has gone through phases of criminalization and acceptance. 

Even though it’s illegal in most places, many state or local governments still tend to look the other way. So to curb the phenomenon of animal sexual abuse, we have to understand it. 

Research on the subject is scarce (scientists don’t often want to study people who bang their pets), but we’ve scraped together data on bestiality rates, psychological factors, locations where it’s common, and more.    

Here are some of the best bestial sex statistics we could find:

  • One study estimates that 2% of the general population is sexually attracted to animals to some extent. 
  • Alabama only outlawed bestiality in 2014, and the state governor refused to sign the legislation. 
  • Zoophiles are commonly characterized as lonely and isolated people. 
  • One study found that nearly one-third (31.6%) of animal sex offenders also sexually offended children and adults. 
  • Four U.S. states – Hawaii, Wyoming, West Virginia, and New Mexico – still haven’t outlawed bestiality. 
  • In one study of bestiality-related cases in the U.S., only 31.9% of arrests resulted in prosecution.
  • Hungary is one of the world’s largest bestiality porn exporters. 
  • Dogs are the most common victims of bestiality, followed by horses and other farm animals. 

What is Bestiality?

First thing’s first, just what is bestiality?

It’s not that complicated; it’s exactly what you think it is. 

  • Any sexual act between a human being and an animal is called bestiality. (Legal Information Institute, 2021)1
  • People who commit bestiality have a variety of reasons, which are typically environmental or belief-based. Belief-based bestiality may reinforce certain myths. (Sociology Compass, 2015)2

Bestiality vs. Zoophilia

Having sex with an animal and wanting to have sex with an animal aren’t necessarily the same thing. Bestiality is the act, and zoophilia is the mindset. 

At least, researchers and experts agree on that some of the time. These data points paint a clearer picture:

  • Sexual interest in animals is usually described with three key terms: zoophilia, bestiality, and zoosexuality, which are often used interchangeably. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2014)3
    • Some experts distinguish zoophilia as a persistent sexual interest in animals and bestiality as sexual acts with animals; oftentimes, bestiality is not driven by a sexual preference for animals.
  • Bestiality is cross-species sexual activity between humans and non-human animals. (Wikipedia, 2022)4
    • Some researchers and zoophiles describe zoophilia as the desire to have sexual relationships with animals and bestiality as the sex acts alone. 
  • Zoophilia can refer to sexual activity between humans and animals, the desire to have such relations, or to the specific paraphilia that indicates a definite sexual preference for animals over humans. (Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment, 2008)5
  • The term zoosexuality was coined by sexologist and sex therapist Hani Miletski in 2002 as a value-neutral term. (Wikipedia, 2022)4
    • Zoosexuality is sometimes used by self-identified zoophiles in support groups and online forums to describe a sexual orientation of being sexually attracted to animals. 

How Common Is Bestiality?

“Have you ever had sex with an animal?” is a survey question that isn’t likely to get a lot of honest answers. Many people are caught committing bestiality, but that implies there are a lot more people who don’t get caught. 

With this in mind, it’s easy to see why the estimates fluctuate. They also vary by nation and culture throughout the world. There’s also a difference between non-practicing zoophiles (such as some “furries”) and those who sexually abuse animals, even though they are sometimes lumped together in the same category.   

Here’s a look at the best available data on how common bestiality is:

  • One study found that 2% of the general population demonstrated zoophilic behavior. (Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría, 2019)6
  • There is a notable sub-culture of zoophiles who sometimes refer to themselves as “zoos.” (WBSM, 2019)7
  • Zoophile internet forums are becoming more prevalent, and one of the largest is BeastForum, which claims to have over 1.2 million registered members and even more unregistered participants. (WBSM, 2019)7
  • In the mid-20th century, famous sexual researcher Alfred Kinsey hypothesized that 8% of men and 3.6% of women engaged in sexual activity with an animal. (WBSM, 2019)7
  • One study of mostly rural men in Brazil found that 34% had sex with animals often (WBSM, 2019)7
  • One study found that there was a 14% bestiality rate among juvenile sex offenders. (Pediatric Education, 2016)8
    • A different study of juvenile sex offenders found that bestiality rates were between 3.9% and 38%.
    • 37.5% of the aforementioned bestiality was self-reported, which increased to 81.3% when given a polygraph test. 
  • In a study of 171 men who committed bestiality, 29.8% reported committing it with a group of men, and 70.2% reported doing it alone. (The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2011)9
    • The same study found that 62% had sex with multiple animals, while 38% always used the same animal. 
    • 14% said they had sex with an animal once, 15% said they did it monthly, and 39.5% said they did it weekly or more. 
  • A 1991 study found that psychiatric patients self-reported a 55% rate of bestiality (both sexual contact and fantasy). In contrast, medical in-patients had a 10% rate, and psychiatric staff had a 15% rate. (International Journal of Psychosomatics, 1991)10
  • A 1982 study found that 7.5% of university students had interacted with an animal sexually. (Adolescence, 1982)11

Animal Sexual Abuse in the U.S.

While surveys and studies can give us some insight into the people willing to self-report zoophilic behavior, the data on animal abuse arrests can tell an entirely different story. 

The profiles of zoophiles caught in the act of animal sexual abuse suggest that zoophilia may be an indicator of other negative psychological traits. 

  • Nearly one-third (31.6%) of animal sex offenders also sexually offended children and adults. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
  • 52.9% of animal sex offenders had a prior or subsequent criminal record involving human sexual abuse, animal abuse, violence, substances, or property offenses. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
  • Less than 4 out of 10 (39.1%) of arrests involving the sexual abuse of animals resulted in prosecution. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
  • Over half (52.9%) of animal abuse offenders had prior criminal histories. Over one-quarter (25.7%) had previously committed bestiality or animal cruelty. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
  • A study of 456 bestiality-related arrests from 1975 to 2015 identified the following trends: (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
    • 72.5% of incidents involved an animal that lived with or was known to the offender. 
    • 34 of the arrests involved violent or sadistic acts that resulted in the death or euthanasia of the animal. 
    • In four incidents, the offender had sex with an animal carcass. 
    • 27.6% of offenders were repeat offenders who had sex with more than one animal, multiple sexual interactions with the same animal, or in multiple incidents over an extended period. 
    • In 3.5% of arrests, the offender solicited an animal for sexual purposes through either online advertising or social media. 

Bestiality by Country: Countries That Fornicate with Animals

People go to France to see the Eiffel Tower. They go to Hawaii for the beaches. They go to Amsterdam for its famous red-light district and legalized substances.

They also go to Hungary to make horse porn. Here’s a look at some of the most prolific bestiality sites and trends in countries around the world: 

  • While bestiality is illegal in many – if not most – countries, there are still several places where it’s legal, or the law simply isn’t enforced: (The Richest, 2016)13
    • Germany
      • One report says that bestiality brothels (referred to as “erotic zoos”) are spreading throughout Germany.
      • On a technicality, bestiality porn is illegal in Germany, while having sex with animals isn’t. 
    • Colombia
      • The northern coast of Colombia is a well-known epicenter of bestiality.
      • One documentary explored the odd practice of pubescent boys having sex with donkeys. The practice was so accepted that they claimed to use it to “hone their skills.”
    • South Africa
      • While South Africa doesn’t officially condone bestiality, their courts typically don’t want to deal with the cases. 
      • It’s estimated that thousands of cases come to the courts but ultimately go unreported. 
    • The U.S.A. 
      • In the U.S., bestiality is more common than would be expected. One famous case is a 45-year-old man in Washington who died while having filmed sex with a stallion. 
      • Alabama only outlawed bestiality in 2014, and the state governor refused to sign the legislation. 
    • Sweden
      • Sweden didn’t outlaw bestiality until 2013. 
      • Prior to 2013, bestiality was legal so long as one could prove that the animal was not harmed physically or psychologically.
    • Denmark
      • One Danish report found that 17% of vets suspected that they had treated at least one animal that was a victim of bestiality. 
      • Animal brothels exist in Denmark, with prices typically ranging from $85 to $170 depending on the animal. 
      • Only 76% of the Danish population supports anti-bestiality laws. 
    • Brazil
      • Penile cancer is rampant in Brazil, possibly caused by the prevalence of bestiality. Men who commit bestiality are twice as likely to get penis cancer. 
      • One study found that 45% of Brazil’s penile cancer victims had engaged in sexual activity with an animal. 
        • At least 35% of all men in the study reported having sex with an animal at some point in their lives. 
        • Most men said they stopped committing bestiality once they started having sex with women. 
    • Hungary
      • Hungary has kept bestiality legal and is one of the world’s largest producers of bestiality porn. 
      • Animal brothels in Hungary are also increasing. 
    • Finland
      • Bestiality has been legal in Finland since 1971. 
      • The law states that bestiality is legal so long as the animal has not been treated too roughly or cruelly or been caused unnecessary pain and suffering. 
    • Mexico
      • Bestiality is legal in Mexico, and Tijuana is famous for its “donkey shows.”
      • In “donkey shows,” both the donkey and the woman are typically owned and forced to commit bestiality. 
  • As of 2021, there were no laws against bestiality in New Mexico, West Virginia, Hawaii, and Wyoming. (Route Fifty, 2021)14

Bestiality and Pornography

Most things that people like to do, they also like to watch, and bestiality is no exception. There is a significant crossover between users of animal porn and child porn; however, this is not always the case and may be tied more closely to general deviant sexual behavior than to zoophilia.

Here’s a look at the numbers: 

  • Some evidence suggests that people drawn to child porn may also possess or view animal pornography. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
  • One study of 456 bestiality-related arrests found that 34.4% of them didn’t involve sexual contact with the animal, but animal pornography was in evidence. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
    • One case involved the sale of “crush” videos – pornography where a small animal is crushed or tortured for sexual gratification. 
    • Another offender produced and distributed bestiality and scat films. 
  • One study found that 8.6% of respondents self-reported watching bestiality pornography. (Computers in Human Behavior, 2013)15
    • 0.5% said they only used deviant pornography (bestiality and child)
    • Of the study’s child pornography offenders, 60% also collected nondeviant adult and animal pornography. 34% only consumed nondeviant adult porn, and just 6% consumed only animal porn. 

Which Animals Are Most at Risk?

Man’s best friend is also man’s most preferred victim of animal sexual abuse. While no animal is safe, dogs often get the worst of it. 

These data points highlight the animals most likely to be victims of bestiality:

  • Dogs are the most frequent bestiality victims, followed by horses and farm animals such as cattle, goats, pigs, chickens, etc. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
    • Reptiles, wildlife, cats, birds, etc., are also at risk. 
  • One study found that most bestiality arrests (83.7%) involve only one animal. (Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019)12
    • Sexually abused animals were often under a year old. 
    • In 72.5% of incidents, the animal victims lived with the offender. 
    • In 71.1% of incidents, the animals were directly sexually assaulted by the offender, a person they coerced, or someone they assisted. 
  • Some of the most at-risk animals in the U.S. are horses, snakes, dogs, and cows. (The Guardian, 2017)16

Causes and Treatments for Bestiality

Zoophilia is a subsect of paraphilic disorder, the psychiatric condition that involves persistent sexual attraction to unusual things. 

While practicing zoophiles are often chastised, shunned, and prosecuted, this is not all that should be done to mitigate animal sexual abuse. Unfortunately, treatment of zoophiles is an under-researched subject, but there are options. 

  • Bestiality has been around as long as humanity but is still a poorly understood aspect of human sexuality. (Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2017)17
  • Bestiality is typically referred to as a paraphilic disorder: (Virtual Psych Centre, 2020)18
    • It’s one of the best-known paraphilias and involves consistent sexual attraction to non-human animals. 
    • Zoolophilic practices often take place in isolated, inaccessible, and/or rural areas. Human contact may be limited, while livestock or other animals are common. 
    • Loneliness and isolation are common characteristics of people with zoophilia. 
    • An emotional bond can form between an animal and its owner, and the person may feel a special connection that leads to the humanization of the animal and sexual desire. 
  • Paraphilia treatment, specifically for bestiality, is complex and subject to debate. (Virtual Psych Centre, 2020)18
    • Zoophilic patients often identify as a persecuted group and assert that their practices do not harm anyone. 
    • Psychological treatments could involve analyzing fantasies to determine which elements are sexually excitable and improving self-esteem and relational skills with humans. 

Health Risks of Bestiality

No matter how you may feel about animals, it should be abundantly clear that you should not, under any circumstances, engage in sexual activity with them.

Interspecies sex is nonconsensual and often causes harm to the animal. If that wasn’t bad enough, it also poses serious health risks to the humans involved. 

  • Diseases that can be passed from animals to humans are referred to as zoonosis or zoonotic diseases. These can include bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses such as: (Public Health Nigeria, 2019)19
    • Leptospirosis – Carried by dogs, horses, sheep, and other animals, this infection is sexually transmitted, causes meningitis, and is life-threatening in 10% of cases. 
    • Echinococcosis – The transition of parasitic worms from cat or dog feces that can show no symptoms for up to a year. Causes the growth of fatal cysts in the liver, brain, lungs, and other organs. 
    • Rabies – Transmitted by the saliva of dogs, cats, and horses, this disease is almost always fatal in unvaccinated humans. 

Conclusion

Like with any sexual deviancy, zoophilia is not necessarily the fault of anyone who experiences it. Sexuality is a neutral and imperfect aspect of the human consciousness; we define it in ourselves by the ways we nurture and act upon it. However, the clearest indicator of healthy versus unhealthy sexual behavior is consent, which animals cannot give. 

As little as 2% or as much as 10% of the population at least fantasizes about animals sexually, and this is not by choice. Bestiality is more likely in those with other harmful sexual deviancies, as well as sexual offenders. 

Sexual relations with animals subject humans to a variety of health risks and often physically harm the animal involved. 

Some nations allow bestiality, others ignore it, and others prosecute it zealously. Society’s approach to zoophilia is mixed, but it is undeniably part of our collective sexuality. 

Just as any person is responsible for practicing their own sexuality healthily and harmlessly, society also has a responsibility to address zoophilia. Therefore, expanding research on zoophilia and access to treatment options is necessary. 

Footnotes

  1. Legal Information Institute, 2021. A brief explanation of the absolute legal definition of bestiality, the acts it entails, and its legal implementation in the U.S.
  2. Sociology Compass, 2015. An analytic breakdown of bestiality in the U.S., including its trends, common practices, and evolution with the advent of the internet.
  3. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2014. A research article on the distinct definitions of bestiality and zoophilia as well as what constitutes a psychiatric disorder that can be treated.
  4. Wikipedia, 2022. An online encyclopedia entry on the practices of bestiality and zoophilia.
  5. Sexual Deviance: Theory, Assessment, and Treatment, 2008. An academic book providing an in-depth analysis of a variety of unusual sexual behaviors, including zoophilia.
  6. Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría, 2019. A study of 10 reports, two case series, and one cross-sectional study of 1,015 participants to determine the frequency of zoophilic behavior in the general population.
  7. WBSM, 2019. An article by a local radio news outlet that describes a local instance of bestiality and then goes in-depth on modern zoophile trends, citing different journals.
  8. Pediatric Education, 2016. An analytical article on paraphilia and zoophilia in adolescents, its causes, and warning signs.
  9. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 2011. A study on the potential correlation between bestiality and penile cancer conducted on hundreds of men, 171 of whom reported having sex with animals.
  10. International Journal of Psychosomatics, 1991. A study of the prevalence of bestiality and zoophilia in psychiatric patients.
  11. Adolescence, 1982. A study of sexual outlets conducted on 50 single males and 50 single females in both 1974 and 1980.
  12. Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, 2019. A study on the criminal histories of criminals who committed animal sexual abuse from 1975 to 2015.
  13. The Richest, 2016. An article about countries and regions throughout the world that practice and indulge in bestiality with no legal consequence.
  14. Route Fifty, 2021. An article on bestiality in the U.S. and how two of the four states where it is still legal are attempting to pass laws against it.
  15. Computers in Human Behavior, 2013. A study of the progression of paraphilia that uses data from 630 participants who indulged in non-deviant adult and animal pornography.
  16. The Guardian, 2017. An article on which animals are most at risk of animal sexual abuse and bestiality.
  17. Journal of Forensic Sciences, 2017. A study of bestiality among sex offenders that aims to clarify the motivations of animal sex abusers and methods for psychiatric assessment.
  18. Virtual Psych Centre, 2020. An article on the variety of causes for bestiality as well as the symptoms, warning signs, and potential treatments.
  19. Public Health Nigeria, 2019. A health article on bestiality and the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans as well as their side effects.
Dainis Graveris

Dainis Graveris

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