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Those Who Practice Bestiality Say They're Part of the Next Sexual Rights Movement

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"The dolphin developed an attraction toward me," Brenner says. "And she had to work very hard to get me to respond to what she wanted."

It was a rough courtship. "When you're in the water with a dolphin, you do whatever they want you to," Brenner says. In this dolphin's case, he adds, "If you don't do what they want, they'll push you to the bottom of a 12-foot pool."

When that didn't work, Brenner says, the dolphin tried a gentler, subtler seduction. "She would take my leg very lightly in her jaws and run her teeth up and down my leg," he says. "It's an incredible sensation. I don't know if other people would find it erotic, but I certainly did."

That method overcame Brenner's resistance. He consummated his flirtations with the dolphin. "It was the most intense experience I've ever had," he says. "A transcendental experience. I felt I was completely wrapped up."

The power of it scared him, though. He didn't want to develop an attachment to her, not just because of their difference in species but because they were going in different directions: The dolphin's amusement park had closed, and she'd been sold to one in Gulfport, Mississippi; Brenner was attending school that fall in Olympia, Washington. "I felt bad about leaving her," he says of Ruby. "But quite frankly, I was weirded out. I felt I needed to get in a relationship with a woman."

When he returned a year later, he asked a friend how Ruby was doing. The friend casually mentioned the dolphin had died, probably from the stress of moving from her former park to the new one in Mississippi. The news threw Brenner into a depression that lasted five years. Ruby, he's certain, was the love of his life.

In the years since, it has been a battle between Brenner's attraction for animals and his desire to be normal. He was married to his first wife for 12 years, to his second for six. Through it all, he says, "Zoophilia was my fantasy life. Some would make love to their wife and imagine Angelina Jolie. I fantasized I was a wolf having sex with another wolf."


In the mid-'90s, Hani Miletski decided to devote her doctoral dissertation to zoophilia and bestiality. She was a student at the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality in San Francisco, and Miletski was drawn to the subject not only because it seemed bizarre and fascinating but also because it had received scant attention from researchers. In particular, she noticed researchers had not accounted for the motives behind having sex with animals. Surely there's some common experience, something more reliable than the genetic lottery to explain how some people such as the ones above become attracted to animals. So she set out to find these motives.

Miletski tried several strategies, but the one that worked best was an ad for volunteers she placed in her local alternative weekly newspaper, the Baltimore City Paper. The first zoophile who contacted her told a zoophile friend. Soon they arranged for Miletski to meet the international "zoo" community that had already formed within a still-blossoming technology, the internet. Miletski had hoped to find a few zoophiles to speak openly about their attractions and conduct a case study. She was astonished to learn how many zoophiles there were and that they were so eager to have their mysterious, forbidden sexual proclivities given a scientific study. In all, she had 160 volunteers and accepted 93 — of whom 82 were men — into her study.

The study was more notable for what it did not find. The zoophiles had no similar childhood experience. Those who grew up in the country around animals were no more likely to become zoophiles than those who grew up in the city without them. They cut across race, geography, religion, and profession. "I could not find anything that says, 'All zoos are this way or that way,' " Miletski says. Having been unable to locate clues suggesting some other motive, Miletski concluded the single explanation for the behavior was the conscious one that zoophiles offered: It was an orientation they were born with.

"They really loved their animals," she said of the research subjects. "To the point that some want to marry them and treat them as spouses."

Miletski's findings not only formed her dissertation but also turned into a book, Understanding Bestiality and Zoophilia, which remains the most authoritative modern text on zoophilia.

When told of Senator Rich's remarks about people who commit bestiality being a threat to children, Miletski says, "I think it's real bullshit for people to say that. There's no connection that we know of. If you said that to zoos, they would be so offended." That's because Miletski says nearly all the zoophiles she interviewed expressed moral revulsion for sex with animals that had not fully matured. In this respect, she says, they recognize the same values that underlie laws against statutory rape.

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Thomas Francis