Animal love in Berlin

Animal love in Berlin

How much love can you give – or receive from – your favourite pet? There are no limits, say zoophiles – gay or straight, monogamous or orgy-goers – who enjoy legal freedom but suffer strong social stigma.


Sex with animals is eternally fascinating. The part of our brain that registers disgust also seems to house our primal instincts, and with bestiality, there’s always the intoxicating fear that at the bottom of that revulsion is our own sexual desire. We’ve internalised enough Freud to know, or think we know, that what we repress is what we want. But the fascination is also aesthetic and intellectual – bestiality is so unnatural that we can’t help but admire its artistic duality.

There’s enough of it going on in western art – from the escapades of Zeus to A Midsummer Nights Dream to Beauty and the Beast to Edward Albee’s 2002 play The Goat. It’s a staple dream of our civilisation. And Woody Allen’s movie Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex proves that sex with sheep is fundamentally funny. But what about those people for whom it is not a poetic culmination or a comic set-piece, but a real sexual drive? How do they cope with society’s disgust, and how do they actually ‘do it’?

Ever since September 1, 1969, Germany’s zoophiles have had a free hand. It was on this day that, in a fit of post-’68 rationalism, sex with animals was decriminalised, because an ‘abnormal psychological condition cannot be treated with punishment’. The animal was still protected from physical abuse by other laws, but the principle that zoosexuality was immoral and inhumane was abolished. The law hasn’t been altered since, and its principle is intact in most western European countries, the UK being the significant exception. (In the USA and Australia the legality is decided at state level.)

Of course there is still schizophrenia on the issue. People tend to agree that bestiality is immoral or inhumane – conservative people tend towards the former adjective, while liberals go with the latter – but for some reason we still defend our right to this perversion. While almost every ancient culture and major religion explicitly banned bestiality – sex with beasts amounted to a blasphemy against nature (from ancient Greece to the Renaissance to the Victorian era, the natural order always placed animals below humanity), many modern legislatures simply do not address it, making it legal by default. And there is a significant zoophile community in Germany.

They are secretive, suspicious and spread across the county, but thanks to Internet forums zoophiles are close. There are also many different kinds of zoophiles, who move in very separate and occasionally hostile circles. One of these is gay men who have sex with dogs and horses. The documentary Zoo, shown at last year’s Cannes film festival but not yet released commercially in Europe, makes a slightly sentimental portrait of this community out of the story of Kenneth Pinyan, a Seattle man who died having sex with a stallion in 2005. Zoo is made up of interviews with people involved in the case, spoken as voice-overs that artfully cover tasteful recreations of the events.

Sex parties with dogs

Then there are heterosexual couples who meet at private flats for sex parties with dogs. Generally the men stay passive and watch their wives and girlfriends having sex with canines. These parties are usually only among close friends. Strangers, especially single men, are not invited, but curious new couples are welcomed, as are people willing to help with the logistics, i.e. dog- and flat-owners. As often as not, they are as much jolly social get-togethers as they are furry orgies. Last summer in Essen, a couple invited a few friends to their downtown apartment: Marco, a fat, garrulous former alcoholic in his mid-forties with a building business and his wife Birgit, who was as silent as he was chatty.

The party lasted all day. By the end 10 men had turned up, as well as four women and two dogs. Only one woman (Birgit) and one dog (Cash) attempted sex. (All names changed). It happened like this: Birgit discreetly left and took off her jeans in the bathroom. When she returned with nothing but her t-shirt on (dogs have fairly sharp claws), the party, which had been getting jovial, fell ominously silent. Two video cameras started.

Cash, a majestic three-year-old Alsatian who’d been excited since he arrived, pissed on the linoleum floor. Birgit climbed onto the bed, and Cash leapt at her. She played with him, stroked him, and muttered into his ear like a horse whisperer. Leching men sat around and leered like gargoyles. Birgit barely touched Cash, and rested often to make beatific eye contact with him.

Eventually her husband, aware of his guests’ limited patience, urged her to make a move. She gently handled Cash’s penis. His back curled up, and he vigorously pumped her hand for a few seconds before losing his balance. His penis extended from its fur tube. Birgit turned around, and he mounted her. He jabbed frantically for three more seconds, trying to get in, and then fell off. This game – stroking, muttering, manual arousal, attempting to penetrate, falling off – was repeated a couple of times before Birgit casually gave up. She wasn’t very bothered. There were no reproaches from the men, but they were clearly disappointed – it wasn’t going to be one of the crazier parties.

Marco made some authoritative remarks about what ‘stage’ Cash was at, while Cash, altogether nonplussed, and not looking quite so majestic, did another little piss on the bed. Helmut decided it was time to take him for a walk. Once they went out, people started expressing all sorts of concern for the dog. Birgit said there was something not ‘kosher’ about Helmut. Judging Cash’s body language, they thought he was being beaten.

This concern for the animal’s welfare unites all those who call themselves zoophiles. They take great pains to distinguish themselves from so-called zoo-sadists (animal rapists) or people who go to the illegal animal bordellos that are rumoured to exist. And when the conversation was not about sex, the language and tone of the party was very similar to that you hear from other pet-owners – the same emotional attachment, and the same goofy talk, along the lines of ‘guess what he’s thinking now’. They were very normal people with a seriously perverted streak in them.

Coming out as ‘zoosexual’

But BlackWolf is not impressed by any of this. BlackWolf is a passionate, moral 22-year-old Berlin zoophile who is disgusted by such sex parties and considers people like Marco and Birgit unworthy of zoophilia. To him, it is nothing but animal abuse in the service of crude satisfaction. He runs a zoophile forum on the Internet, and belongs to Zooring, a small group of website administrators who adhere to some strict animal protection principles.

BlackWolf first noticed his zoophilic tendencies at the age of six. He was growing up in the country and became irreversibly attached to his grandmother’s golden retriever, Sina. He remembers his sexual awakening happening with this dog. ‘Like every child of that age, I was curious, and looked at what she had. She like it, and made signs that I only understood later.’ He first had sex with Sina at age 12.

Then the story becomes traumatic: ‘In the same year we moved, and I had to leave Sina behind. I missed her terribly, and saved money to go back and visit. By the time I had enough, I was two years older. When I got there. I was told Sina had died two weeks after we left. The news destroyed my life. She had started to refuse food and banged her head against walls until she finally died. After that my life went downhill. I failed at school and broke off my first traineeship. For four years I couldn’t get it out of my head that she had died because I had left. Then I decided to look for other zoophiles on the Internet.’

Now BlackWolf runs the largest Internet zoophile forum in German. It is hard to imagine that his intensely romantic sensibility is common to all those he associates with, but his own intense sincerity demands respect. He rates a relationship with an animal as exactly equal to one between two humans. ‘The chemistry between me and the animal has to be right. It has to be love.’

His definition of such a relationship is simple and honest: ‘My partner and I should get along with each other and have the same interests. We should be able to live together and be able to get along after arguments. We should be able to solve our problems together and we should have common goals.’ But how are all these things possible with an animal?

BlackWolf sees true zoophilia in these terms: ‘My dog and I understand each other without a common language. My dog always tells the truth because, unlike humans, she’s never learnt to lie. We live together perfectly. My dog has made herself 100 percent dependent on me, without me forcing it …. I always want the best for my dog, and if you know your dog well, you know she always wants the best for her master.

Mutual consent

For BlackWolf, sexual relations can also be compared directly to human ones. ‘Sex has to happen by mutual consent, and as long as the human is a true zoophile, and not a zoo-sadist, it is never forced.

Many people argue, “But an animal can’t say YES.” But this argument is invalid, because if you know and love your animal, you know what it does and doesn’t want. You can tell when a dog wants to go for a walk, wants to eat, doesn’t want to go to the vet.’ This much is certainly true of any pet owner, and BlackWolf also makes the good point that accepted procedures with animals are equally, if not more, inhumane than anything he does. ‘Can an animal say “yes” to a forced castration? No. It isn’t even asked. Why is this argument about the animal’s consent not used when it comes to castration or animal transportation?’

There are flaws in BlackWolf’s logic, but only if you belong to the mainstream, people who cannot conceive of the kind of relationship he has with an animal. Most German animal welfare organizations lobby for an outright ban on bestiality. A group called Verschwiegenes Tierled (Secret Animal Suffering) specialises in an anti-zoophilia campaign. On their website they argue that even if the animal is not harmed physically, the act itself abuses its dignity.

BlackWolf simply disagrees, claiming that to outlaw abusing an animal’s dignity would mean outlawing almost anything that human beings do with animals. The two positions are irreconcilable. But it is clear that however misguided or psychopathic zoophiles might be, their name is fitting – they do honestly love animals, and the psychological nature of their love is barely different to that of any pet-lover.

If we’re going to argue about what’s natural, you have to concede that it is unnatural to keep animals as pets in the first place. Zoophiles do have their own moral position on the issue. It is a moral position that is relative to their sexuality, but you could say that everyone’s morality is dependent on their sex life.

Filed under: EXBERLINER