Male Lions Caught Copulating in Wildlife Park

"One of the lions suddenly got up, walked over and jumped on his friend's back."

Two male lions were caught copulating in a wildlife preserve in Yorkshire, England.

Wildlife photographer Russ Bridges was at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park when he saw an adult male lion mount another male, ignoring a lioness just a few feet away.

“There are two males and a female in that pride,” he explained. “One of the lions suddenly got up, walked over and jumped on his friend’s back,” Bridges related. “In fairness though, every time a male went near [the lioness], she snarled and swiped their faces with her paw.”

He related that several people were watching and laughing, “commenting on what it looked like.”

Getty Images

“It’s not really unusual for them to act that way sometimes,” Bridges offered. “I don’t know if it’s a dominance thing or something like that – it looks as if they are aggressive, but it’s all play between friends. It’s like he’s showing his pride in what he’s doing.”

Bridges has photographed lions before but this was the first time he’d seen them exhibit homosexual behavior. “Usually they lay asleep doing nothing when I go to photograph them, but this time they were up and about. My favorite shot is the one where he appears to be sticking his tongue out.”

A similar encounter was captured last summer in northern Botswana, but a zoologist insisted it wasn’t two males, but rather a female lion with a mane.

“If a lion mother had abnormally high androgens during pregnancy, her female offspring may end up ’masculinized,” reported National Geographic. “A situation that occurs occasionally in people but which is rarely observed in wild animals.”

Dan Avery is a writer-editor who focuses on culture, breaking news and LGBT rights. His work has appeared in Newsweek, The New York Times, Time Out New York, The Advocate and elsewhere.