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three pairs of lovers with space



Solomon "Solly" Zuckerman (1904-1993) worked as a research anatomist at the London Zoological Society from 1928 to 1932. His interest in comparative anatomy and psychology led to the publication of his most noteworthy pre-war work, The Social Life of Monkeys and Apes (1932). In this work Zuckerman set out to combat what he viewed as the anecdotal and anthropomorphic approach of 19th century comparative psychology.

In the preface he writes: "This volume embodies the results of my investigations." The monkeys and apes which Zuckerman studied include:  "encounters with wild baboons in South Africa", "a Hamadryas baboon colony in the Tierpark in Munich", "a study of [the Zoological Society of London's] rich collection of monkeys and apes", and a chance, "in the early part of 1930, to revisit South Africa to collect anatomical material and once again to make observations on baboons in their natural habitat."

The following extracts are those most concerned with pederasty and its possible evolutionary development.

Aerial photograph of London Zoo taken in August 1950. Monkey Hill is bottom left centre.

Chapter IX  The Individual Within the Group

The sexual responses of the sub-human primate can be linked to many situations which are not intrinsically sexual, but which, once the association is formed, change in character owing to the infusion of a sexual element. Its efficient sensori-motor apparatus and its peculiar reproductive physiology allow its sexual responses to extend beyond the narrow range of stimuli that serve to evoke these responses in lower mammals. [...]


Chapter XIV  The Hamadryas Baboon Colony

Homosexual behaviour is frequently engaged in by all members of the family group. Mutual grooming, genital examination and mounting may take place between the overlord and his attached bachelor or between either of these and any male of the colony, irrespective of age, with whom temporary friendly relations are assumed. [...]


Chapter XV  Dominance and the Liberation of Sexual Responses

Solly Zuckerman in Tobruk in 1943 during the Western Desert Campaign

The sexual responses of sub-human primates may have no connection with sexual appetite, and often appear to be used as a means to obtain material advantages — for example, food or protection from enemies. The liberation of these responses in asexual situations was first recognized as a distinct form of behaviour by Hamilton in 1914. Hamilton concluded, from a lengthy series of observations, that “at least two, and possibly three, different kinds of hunger, or needs of individual satisfaction, normally impel the macaque towards the manifestation of sexual behavior, viz., hunger for sexual satisfaction, hunger for escape from danger and, possibly, hunger for access to an enemy.” To this list Bingham[1], on the basis of certain observations carried out in Cuba on the late Madame Abreu’s collection of sub-human primates, has suggested the addition of a fourth class of sexual response — the tendency “to show off sexually in the presence of interested observers."

[In an earlier chapter Zuckerman observed that the sub-human primate "may be said to prostitute its sex by the introduction of sexual stimuli into situations which in themselves are inherently asexual. A monkey can divert the aggression of a fellow by presenting it with a sexual stimulus which proves stronger than the stimulus that activated pugnacious behaviour."]

This point of view is emphasized by Kempf who defines prostitution of the sub-human primate as being "essentially the giving of sexual favors for economic advantages and physical protection." [...]

The permanent bi-sexual associations of monkeys and apes form an adequate environment in which the complex sensori-motor equipments of these animals may evolve new types of social and sexual response.

Every ape or monkey enjoys a position within a social group that is determined by the interrelation of its own dominant characteristics and those of its fellows. The degree of dominance determines how far its bodily appetites will be satisfied. Dominance determines the number of females that a male may possess, and except on occasions when there is a superfluity of food, it also determines the amount a monkey eats. Sexual prostitution can be regarded — indeed this is the only possible interpretation in the light of the facts at present available — as a means by which monkeys survive within a social framework that achieves a dynamic character by a system of dominance. In many cases the assumption of the female sexual attitude by one animal towards another, implies that in this situation the “presenting” animal is submissive to the other. [...]

Both the male and the female primate are always to some degree in a sexually excitable condition, and the stimuli that can release their sexual responses are enormously varied. Any member of a social group, old or young, will stimulate sexual responses in another. [...]


All situations which stimulate sexual prostitution are alike in so far as they allow an animal some advantage that it would otherwise be denied. A weaker animal secures some food and immediately presents sexually to a more dominant fellow. Its act of sexual submission may or may not be followed by the dominant animal mounting it or grooming it, but the sexual stimulus usually serves as a means of inhibiting the dominant animal’s initial response of antagonism aroused by its deprivation of food. [...]

...it is possible that these liberated sexual responses are socially conditioned from flight reactions stimulated by fear. This view implies that the acts of sexual presentation of a monkey — other than those directed to sexual ends, whether reproductive or playful in nature — represent incipient flight responses in situations in which the animal is dominated. The monkey’s presentation in social situations of this nature is then all that is left of its original reaction of flight from the environment of fear and discomfort. The act typifying subjugation accordingly becomes the movement of turning and the presentation of the hindquarters. The inhibition of flight may be regarded as an effect of social conditioning, since the turning of the hindquarters at the beginning of the reaction presents a dominating animal with a sexual stimulus to which he immediately responds. This new stimulus is stronger than the one that has evoked the display of his aggression. Such a series of events could possibly form the background out of which develop the modified types of sexual response which characterize an animal’s adaptation to a social life ruled by dominance. [...]

A young animal draws the threats of an adult. It may then immediately rush away or alternatively present, usually squealing at the same time, the change in its behaviour thus inhibiting the threatened attack. The two animals then pay no more attention to each other, or alternatively the young animal approaches the dominant one in the sexual position and is immediately embraced, perhaps groomed and even mounted. [...]


Chapter XVI  The Communal Life of the Baboon

Hamadryas Baboons on Monkey Hill (1925-1955)

The sexual and social behaviour of the bachelors is identical with that of the mated males of the colony, except for the absence of overt heterosexual responses. Most of the unmated males on the Hill[2] usually wander about and sit alone, except for those periods when they are engaged in sexual or grooming activities with a fellow... Bachelors occasionally strike up “friendships" with each other, and for a time a pair of animals may be seen constantly together. Friendships also exist between an older male and a younger male. One such relationship lasted three years, and was ended recently by the death of the younger baboon, who at the time of death was adolescent. This young male was seldom seen to mix with the other immature animals of the Hill. Whenever it was tormented and squealed, it was immediately rescued by its protector, with whom it often engaged in homosexual activities. [...]

Immature baboons are much more active than the mature animals, and are usually seen playing... They often join bachelors, with whom they engage in mutual grooming and sexual activities. The older animal folds its young friend in its arms, as an overlord does his female, and a mother her infant. An overlord may embrace a young animal in this way even when his females are in the immediate vicinity.

A young baboon is often covered and groomed by an adult animal, whose threatened attack has stimulated it to present. Adult males have sometimes been observed covering young animals who attempted to escape. Sometimes the terrified squeal of a young baboon attracts only a single bachelor, who approaches the young animal, with whom he may then assume friendly relations.

The range of the sexual activities of the young males is very wide. By the time they achieve some measure of independence -- that is when their movements are well co-ordinated -- they are adapted to a social system ruled by dominance. They present in situations which provoke fear. They employ sexual approach in obtaining access to each other and to entice a fellow for play. They masturbate and they mount each other. They mount and are mounted by adult males and by adult females, their heterosexual activities not provoking aggressive responses from the overlords. They engage in manual, oral and olfactory ano-genital examination with animals of their own age and with adults of both sexes. They frequently end a sexual act by biting the animal with whom they have been in contact. This end to sexual activity, which is not usually seen in the behaviour of adults, often appears to be playful, the young animal running away from his partner as soon as he has delivered the bite. [...]


Chapter XVII  The Development of Social and Sexual Responses


At the end of this chapter, in which Zuckerman describes the sub-human primate's socio-sexual development as being organised by dominance rather than homo- or hetero-sexuality, he sums up thus:

Almost every element in the series of motor mechanisms concerned with their mating behaviour appears early in prepubertal life, to become synthesized into the effective mating response long before physiological sexual maturity is reached. Such maturity provides only the final direction and force to these activities. Thus in many ways monkeys and apes run parallel to human beings in their sexual development.



[1] Bingham, Harold C 1928. Sex Development in Apes. Comp. Psych. Monographs, Baltimore, Vol 5, pp. 1-161 [Author's bibliographical  note]

[2] "Monkey Hill": described by Zuckerman as "a large oval rockwork enclosure one hundred feet long and sixty feet wide". The Zoological Society of London released "about one hundred Hamadryas baboons (Papio hamadryas)" into this enclosure in the spring of 1925.



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