Most male macaque monkeys are bisexual, new research finds

New research from Imperial College London has found that two-thirds of macaque monkeys are "behaviourally bisexual".

A monkey looking into a mirror.
Image: Andre Mouton via

A new study from Imperial College London indicates that more than two-thirds of male macaque monkeys engage in same-sex ‘mounting’, concluding most of them to be “behaviourally bisexual”. 

236 male macaque monkeys in Puerto Rico were observed for this study, which found that 72% engaged in sexual activities with the same sex.

“Our research therefore shows that same-sex sexual behaviours can be common amongst animals and can evolve,” said first author of the study Jackson Clive, “I hope our results encourage further discoveries in this area.”

According to lead researcher Professor Vincent Savolainen, not only did 72% of the monkeys exhibit SSB (same-sex behaviour), but the behaviour also strengthened the community bonds for the primates.

“Our mission is to advance scientific understanding of same-sex behaviour, including exploring the benefits it brings to nature and within animal societies,” said Savolainen.

The professor also noted how many people believe same-sex relationships to be unnatural, and how that isn’t really the case. “Unfortunately there is still a belief amongst some people that same-sex behaviour is ‘unnatural,’ and some countries sadly still enforce the death penalty for homosexuality. Our research shows that same-sex behaviour is in fact widespread amongst non-human animals.”

One example of people believing same-sex relationships to be unnatural among animals is very recent when a political party in Australia claimed a relationship between two gay penguins is “fake” after their inclusion in school curriculums. 

The researchers cautioned comparing the macaque monkey’s behaviours to humans and discouraged the assumption their bisexual behaviours arose because of environmental conditions from the study.

Another facet of the study included investigating any reduction in offspring production caused by the monkey’s bisexual tendencies. Fear not, because the study indicates bisexual macaque monkeys may be more successful in reproducing, according to the researchers. 

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