Buscar en
Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría (English Edition)
Toda la web
Inicio Revista Colombiana de Psiquiatría (English Edition) Review of cases, case series and prevalence studies of zoophilia in the general ...
Journal Information
Vol. 50. Issue 1.
Pages 34-38 (January - March 2021)
Vol. 50. Issue 1.
Pages 34-38 (January - March 2021)
Review Article
Full text access
Review of cases, case series and prevalence studies of zoophilia in the general population
Revisión de casos, series de casos y estudios de prevalencia de zoofilia en la población general
Adalberto Campo-Ariasa,
Corresponding author

Corresponding author.
, Edwin Herazob, Guillermo A. Ceballos-Ospinoc
a Programa de Medicina, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad del Magdalena, Santa Marta, Colombia
b Director, Instituto de Investigación del Comportamiento Humano, Bogotá, Colombia
c Programa de Psicología, Facultad de Ciencias de la Salud, Universidad del Magdalena, Santa Marta, Colombia
This item has received
Article information
Full Text
Download PDF
Tables (1)
Table 1. Overview of included publications.

Information about the frequency of zoophilic behaviour in the general population is scarce.


To review cases, case series and prevalence studies of zoophilia in adults in the general population.


A review of publications was carried out in MEDLINE via PubMed, Scopus and the Biblioteca Virtual en Salud [Virtual Health Library] ranging from January 2000 to December 2017.


Thirteen papers were reviewed (ten case reports, two case series and one cross-sectional study). Twelve patients were described, the case series totalled 1,556 people and the cross-sectional study included 1,015 participants and reported a prevalence of zoophilic behaviour of 2%.


Information on the prevalence of zoophilic behaviour in the general population is limited. The Internet will probably be a valuable tool for further investigating these behaviours in coming years.

Sexual behavior
Paraphilic disorders

El conocimiento de la frecuencia de comportamientos zoofílicos en la población general es escaso.


Revisar casos, series de casos y estudios de prevalencia de zoofilia en adultos de la población general.


Se realizó una revisión en las bases de datos de MEDLINE, a través de PubMed, Scopus y la Biblioteca Virtual en Salud de publicaciones desde enero de 2000 hasta diciembre de 2017.


Se revisaron 13 trabajos (10 informes de casos, 2 series de casos y 1 estudio transversal). Entre los casos se describió a 12 pacientes; las series de casos sumaron a 1.556 personas y el estudio transversal incluyó a 1.015 participantes e informó de una prevalencia de comportamientos zoofílicos del 2%.


Es escasa la información sobre la prevalencia de comportamientos zoofílicos en la población general. Es probable que internet permita investigar mejor estos comportamientos en los próximos años.

Palabras clave:
Comportamiento sexual
Trastornos parafílicos
Full Text

The term paraphilia was first used by Stekel in 1930 and popularised by Money in the seventies.1 Paraphilia has been used without pejorative connotations from the third version of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) until its most recent version, DSM-5.2,3 The term was introduced to replace the expression “perversion”, which had taken on derogatory and almost always criminal popular connotations, in order for paraphilias to be considered mental disorders.2,4

In the current DSM-5, paraphilia is defined as “any intense and persistent sexual interest other than sexual interest in genital stimulation or preparatory fondling with phenotypically normal, physiologically mature, consenting human partners”.2 This in itself does not imply a mental disorder.4–6 These sexual behaviours (paraphilias) are referred to as “paraphilic disorder”, “if the fantasies, sexual urges, or behaviours cause clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning”. In other words, they are understood as mental disorders.2 It is not always easy to accurately make this distinction.7

Wright8 maintains that the distinction between paraphilias and paraphilic disorders is a step towards depathologising uncommon sexual behaviours. However, a number of authors, including Fedoroff et al.4 and Echeburúa et al.,5 argue that this not only implies pathologisation (medicalisation or psychiatrisation), but also upholds the stigma-discrimination complex associated with heterodox sexual interests or behaviours. In turn, Hamilton9 maintains that the aim of this process is to give the connotation of mental disorder to some clearly criminal behaviours, thereby leaving the healthcare system with problems that should be dealt with by the justice systems.6,10 Without a doubt, these perspectives revive the long-standing controversy in psychiatry around the distinction between mental disorder and criminal behaviour.11

The paraphilic disorders category includes voyeuristic disorder, exhibitionistic disorder, frotteuristic disorder, sexual masochism disorder, sexual sadism disorder, paedophilic disorder, fetishistic disorder, other specified paraphilic disorder and unspecified paraphilic disorder.2

Zoophilic behaviours, or “zoophilia”, can be defined as “recurrent and intense sexual arousal” involving animals, and is therefore included in the “other specified paraphilic disorder” diagnosis if it is associated with significant distress or impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning and has been present for at least six months.2

The diagnosis of zoophilia and other paraphilias is not free from controversy, as it implies the medicalisation, pathologisation, and in some cases criminalisation of a wide range of private sexual behaviours that do not infringe on the rights of other persons and that are the best representation of human heterogeneity and "normality" in all cultures.12–15 This denotes that current representations of sexuality are the outcome of a complex, dynamic process of changes in the social, political and historical context that privilege sexual responsibility and well-being.12,16,17 Downing18 argues that the pathologisation of paraphilia entails ideological rather than medical questions in favour of heteronormativity and reproduction as the core objective of sexuality. For zoophilic behaviours, it is possible that there will be a push for criminalisation or pathologisation due to the growing defence of animal rights; some authors believe that any contact with an animal with sexual intentions, even where it does not cause any evident pain or damage, could be referred to as animal sexual abuse.19–21

In summary, from a traditional perspective, paraphilias are sexual choices beyond the bounds of "normal" sexuality. From a critical perspective, these behaviours reflect particular social visions of acceptable sexual behaviour. And from an interrogatory point of view, careful consideration is needed to determine whether such behaviours are simply part of the spectrum of normal behaviour, and whether there is any clinical value in medicalisation over criminalisation of people who partake in non-consensual sexual behavior.12–18,22,23 For the particular case of zoophilia, it would be impossible to make a diagnosis if the person does not feel any distress due to sexual behaviour with animals, if they consider it a valid option.12,15–18

Knowledge of the frequency of paraphilic behaviours in the general population is very scant, almost anecdotal, as studies to date have taken biased samples.24 These behaviours have predominantly been researched in sex offenders,25–27 as predictors of antisocial behaviours28,29 and in patients diagnosed with other mental disorders.30–33 Knowing the prevalence in the general population can undoubtedly shed light on the discussion regarding the nature of zoophilic behaviours, whether they should be considered part of the "normal" sexual spectrum or infractions of criminal laws and, consequently, crimes or formal mental disorders that merit formal psychiatric treatment.12–15,22,23


A review was conducted of MEDLINE databases through PubMed, Scopus and the Virtual Health Library (VHL). The VHL is a digital resource that brings together biomedical information in Spanish and Portuguese that often cannot be found on MEDLINE and Scopus.

A wide search was performed, considering the large quantity of articles, such as case reports and other studies, that often report events in the general population. The search was limited to 21st century publications, from January 2000 to December 2017.

The group of key words included “paraphilia”, “zoophilia”, “cases” and “prevalence” in different combinations. These words were used in English, as well as in Spanish and Portuguese for the VHL. Narrative and systematic reviews were not considered. To reduce omissions of articles of interest, a manual review of the references of the articles identified in the initial searches was performed. A descriptive analysis was carried out, specifying the sociodemographic characteristics of the population, the evaluation method, the criteria used and the prevalence of zoophilic behaviours.


Initially, 17 articles were reviewed. Four works were excluded because the participants were not from the general population but from other contexts such as forensics, or because zoophilic-type paraphilic behaviours were not investigated.34–37 Ten case reports,38–47 two case series48,49 and one cross-sectional study50 were reviewed.

In summary, the case reports describe 12 participants, the case series total 1,556 people and the cross-sectional study included 305 male and 710 female subjects. Details of the works included can be seen in Table 1.

Table 1.

Overview of included publications.

Authors  Year of publication  Type of study  Cases (prevalence)  Observations 
Earls et al.38  2002  Case report   
Kirov et al.39  2002  Case report  Describes a clinical picture of rectal lesion in a male due to a sexual relation with a wild boar. 
Dittert et al.40  2005  Case report   
Monteagudo et al.41  2005  Case report  Genital lesion after coitus 
Blevins42  2009  Case report  Adolescent with rectal lesion 
Earls et al.43  2009  Case report   
Imbschweiler et al.44  2009  Case report  Description of genital lesions in a ewe 
Pinzón et al.45  2012  Case report  Description of a case of lymphogranuloma venereum in adolescents with a history of sexual relations with a female donkey 
Satapathy et al.46  2016  Case report   
Virgilio et al.47  2016  Case report  A 63-year-old male with rectal lesion due to sexual relations with a male dog 
Williams et al.48  2003  Case series  114  Male subjects only. Online questionnaire with 5 questions 
Kavanaugh et al.49  2016  Case series  1,442  An online community that identifies as "zoosexual" 
Dawson et al.50  2016  Cross-sectional  1,015(2% in males and 2% in females)  Evaluation of "paraphilic interests" online 

This review brings together case reports, case series and one prevalence study of zoophilia in the general population. Information is truly scant on this subject and it is difficult to accurately state the prevalence of zoophilic behaviours in the general population. The only cross-sectional study reports a prevalence of 2% in both men and women.50

It is extremely likely that the scarcity of valid and reliable data in this area is related to the negative connotations these behaviours have always had, from religious connotations such as sin, in the legal system as criminal, and to date as a mental disorder from the psychiatric medicine perspective.1,2,4–7

However, the growth of online communities and social networks has revealed that sexual behaviours included in the paraphilia category, including so-called zoophilic behaviours, are more common than was thought in the general population without dysfunction in the areas usually assessed when defining a mental disorder.51,52 This is understandable, since the internet allows people to remain anonymous, avoid the stigma-discrimination complex associated with heterodox sexual behaviours and find others with similar behaviours.53,54

The above suggests that it is becoming more difficult to uphold the validity of the diagnosis of paraphilic disorders.4,5,7 Even more so, if we accept that these sexual behaviours are often lasting, like personality characteristics,4,6,7 because of which they don't have a proven response to the treatments currently available.55

This research updates our knowledge about the prevalence of paraphilic behaviours in this general population, although, given the heterogeneity of the publications, it still cannot be precisely established.


In conclusion, there is little information about the prevalence of zoophilic behaviours in the general population; the best available information indicates a prevalence of 2%. It is likely that the internet will enable these behaviours to be investigated in large samples in the coming years.


The Universidad del Magdalena [University of Magdalena], Santa Marta, funded the participation of Adalberto Campo-Arias and Guillermo A. Ceballos-Ospino and the Instituto de Investigación del Comportamiento Humano [Institute for Research in Human Behaviour], Bogotá, Colombia, backed Edwin Herazo as an author.

Conflicts of interest


C.H. Abdo.
The evolution of the concept of paraphilias.
Rev Debate Psiquiatria, 6 (2016), pp. 36-41
Asociación Psiquiátrica Americana.
Guía de consulta de los criterios diagnósticos del DSM-5.
Masson, (2013),
American Psychiatric Association.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.
third edition (dsm-iii), American Psychiatric Publishing, (1980),
J.P. Fedoroff, L. Di Gioacchino, L. Murphy.
Problems with paraphilias in the DSM5.
Curr Psychiatry Rep, 15 (2013), pp. 1-6
E. Echeburúa, K. Salaberría, M. Cruz-Sáez.
Aportaciones y limitaciones del DSM5 desde la psicología clínica.
Ter Psicol, 32 (2014), pp. 65-74
A. Campo-Arias, E. Herazo.
Novedades, críticas y propuestas al DSM-5: El caso de las disfunciones sexuales, la disforia de género y los trastornos parafílicos.
Rev Colomb Psiquiatr, 47 (2018), pp. 56-64
J. DeFeo.
Understanding sexual, paraphilic, and gender dysphoria disorders in DSM-5.
J Child Sex Abuse, 24 (2015), pp. 210-215
S. Wright.
Kinky parents and child custody: the effect of the DSM5 differentiation between the paraphilias and paraphilic disorders.
Arch Sex Behav, 43 (2014), pp. 1257-1258
M. Hamilton.
Adjudicating sex crimes as mental disease.
Pace Law Rev, 33 (2013), pp. 2
J.S. Bard.
Diagnosis dangerous: why State licensing boards should step in to prevent mental health practitioners from speculating beyond the scope of professional standards.
Utah Law Rev, 4 (2015), pp. 929-954
A. De Block, P.R. Adriaens.
Pathologizing sexual deviance: a history.
J Sex Res, 50 (2013), pp. 276-298
A. Giami.
Between DSM and ICD: paraphilias and the transformation of sexual norms.
Arch Sex Behav, 44 (2015), pp. 1127-1138
M. Popovic.
Psychosexual diversity as the best representation of human normality across cultures.
Sex Relation Ther, 21 (2006), pp. 171-186
A.C. Hinderliter.
Defining paraphilia in DSM-5: do not disregard grammar.
J Sex Marit Ther, 37 (2010), pp. 17-31
R. Duschinsky, N. Chachamu.
Sexual dysfunction and paraphilias in the DSM-5: pathology, heterogeneity, and gender.
Fem Psychol, 23 (2013), pp. 49-55
N.N. Potter.
Philosophical issues in the paraphilias.
Curr Opin Psychiatry, 26 (2013), pp. 586-592
C.C. Joyal.
How anomalous are paraphilic interests?.
Arch Sex Behav, 43 (2014), pp. 1241-1243
L. Downing.
Heteronormativity and repronormativity in sexological “perversion theory” and the DSM-5’s “paraphilic disorder” diagnoses.
Arch Sex Behav, 44 (2015), pp. 1139-1145
P. Beirne.
Peter Singer’s “Heavy Petting’” and the politics of animal sexual assault.
Crit Criminol, 10 (2001), pp. 43-55
H.M.C. Munro, M.V. Thrusfield.
“Battered pets”: Sexual abuse.
Anthrozoos, 18 (2005), pp. 71-81
C. Pagani, F. Robustelli, F.R. Ascione.
Investigating animal abuse: some theoretical and methodological issues.
Anthrozoos, 23 (2010), pp. 259-276
C. Moser.
DSM-5 and the paraphilic disorders: conceptual issues.
Arch Sex Behav, 45 (2016), pp. 2181-2186
M.M. Campbell, L. Artz, D.J. Stein.
Sexual disorders in DSM-5 and ICD-11: a conceptual framework.
Curr Opin Psychiatry, 28 (2015), pp. 435-439
N. Konrad, J. Welke, A. Opitz-Welke.
Curr Opin Psychiatry, 28 (2015), pp. 440-444
R. Wollert, E. Cramer.
Sampling extreme groups invalidates research on the paraphilias: Implication-s for DSM‐5 and sex offender risk assessments.
Behav Sci Law, 29 (2011), pp. 554-565
A.M. Schenk, C. Cooper‐Lehki, C.M. Keelan, W.J. Fremouw.
Underreporting of bestiality among juvenile sex offenders: polygraph versus self-report.
J Forens Sci, 59 (2014), pp. 540-542
B. Holoyda.
Bestiality in forensically committed sexual offenders: a case series.
J Forens Sci, 62 (2017), pp. 541-544
C. Hensley, S.E. Tallichet, E.L. Dutkiewicz.
Childhood bestiality: a potential precursor to adult interpersonal violence.
J Interperson Violence, 25 (2010), pp. 557-567
B.J. Holoyda, W.J. Newman.
Childhood animal cruelty, bestiality, and the link to adult interpersonal violence.
Int J Law Psychiatry, 47 (2016), pp. 129-135
W.A. Alvarez, J.P. Freinhar.
A prevalence study of bestiality (zoophilia) in psychiatric in-patients, medical in-patients, and psychiatric staff.
Int J Psychosom, 38 (1990), pp. 45-47
J.A. Sevin, C. Bowers-Stephens, C.G. Crafton.
Psychiatric disorders in adolescents with developmental disabilities: longitudinal data on diagnostic disagreement in 150 clients.
Child Psychiaty Hum Dev, 34 (2003), pp. 147-163
G. Amoo.
Zoophilic recidivism in schizophrenia: a case report.
Afr J Psychiatry, 15 (2012), pp. 223-225
V. Lesandrić, I. Orlović, V. Peitl, D. Karlović.
Zoophilia as an early sign of psychosis.
Alcohol Psychiatry Res, 53 (2017), pp. 27-32
D.T. Wilcox, C.M. Foss, M.L. Donathy.
A case study of a male sex offender with zoosexual interests and behaviours.
J Sex Aggression, 11 (2005), pp. 305-317
Ş Taktak, E. Yılmaz, O. Karamustafalıoglu, A. Ünsal.
Characteristics of paraphilics in Turkey: a retrospective study—20 years.
Int J Law Psychiatry, 49 (2016), pp. 22-30
C.C. Joyal, J. Carpentier.
The prevalence of paraphilic interests and behaviors in the general population: a provincial survey.
J Sex Res, 54 (2017), pp. 161-171
J. Clemente, S.C. Pillon, J. de Jesus, C.J. da Silva, P.R.H. Santana, A. Diehl.
Paraphilic thoughts, behaviors and sex addiction in a sample of persons who use drugs: a cross-sectional study.
J Addiction Med, 11 (2017), pp. 377-385
C.M. Earls, M.L. Lalumiere.
A case study of preferential bestiality (zoophilia).
Sex Abuse., 14 (2002), pp. 83-88
G.K. Kirov, J.E. Losanoff, K.T. Kjossev.
Zoophilia: a rare cause of traumatic injury to the rectum.
S. Dittert, O. Seidl, M. Soyka.
Zoophilia between pathology and normality. Presentation of 3 case reports and an internet survey.
Nervenarzt, 76 (2005), pp. 61-67
B. Montiagudo, E.L. Muiños.
Úlcera genital tras relación sexual zoofílica.
Piel, 20 (2005), pp. 154-155
R.O. Blevins.
A case of severe anal injury in an adolescent male due to bestial sexual experimentation.
J Forensic Leg Med, 16 (2009), pp. 403-406
C.M. Earls, M.L. Lalumiere.
A case study of preferential bestiality.
Arch Sex Behav, 38 (2009), pp. 605-609
I. Imbschweiler, M. Kummerfeld, M. Gerhard, I. Pfeiffer, P. Wohlsein.
Animal sexual abuse in a female sheep.
Vet J, 182 (2009), pp. 481-483
H.S.P. Redondo, C.C. Garcés, C.Y.B. Gómez, C.R. Bermúdez, N.A. Guzmán.
Linfogranuloma venéreo posterior al contacto sexual con una burra: reporte de un caso en pediatría. Cartagena, Colombia.
Rev Enf Infec Pediatr, 25 (2012), pp. 234-236
S. Satapathy, R. Swain, V. Pandey, C. Behera.
An adolescent with bestiality behaviour: psychological evaluation and community health concerns.
Indian J Community Med, 41 (2016), pp. 23-26
E. Virgilio, E. Franzese, S. Caterino.
Zoosexuality: an unusual cause of colorectal injury.
Acta Chir Belg, 116 (2016), pp. 316-318
C.J. Williams, M.S. Weinberg.
Zoophilia in men: a study of sexual interest in animals.
Arch Sex Behav, 32 (2003), pp. 523-535
P.R. Kavanaugh, R.J. Maratea.
Identity, resistance and moderation in an online community of zoosexuals.
Sexualities, 19 (2016), pp. 3-24
S.J. Dawson, B.A. Bannerman, M.L. Lalumière.
Paraphilic interests: an examination of sex differences in a nonclinical sample.
Sex Abuse, 28 (2016), pp. 20-45
F. Tripodi, S. Eleuteri, M. Giuliani, R. Rossi, S. Livi, I. Petruccelli, et al.
Unusual online sexual interests in heterosexual Swedish and Italian university students.
Sexologies, 24 (2015), pp. e84-93
K. Shaughnessy, M. Fudge, E.S. Byers.
An exploration of prevalence, variety, and frequency data to quantify online sexual activity experience.
Can J Hum Sex, 26 (2017), pp. 60-75
T.J. Holt.
Subcultural evolution? Examining the influence of on-and off-line experiences on deviant subcultures.
Deviant Behav, 28 (2007), pp. 171-198
R.J. Maratea.
Screwing the pooch: legitimizing accounts in a zoophilia on-line community.
Deviant Behav, 32 (2011), pp. 918-943
J. Yakeley, H. Wood.
Paraphilias and paraphilic disorders: diagnosis, assessment and management.
Adv Psychiatr Treat, 20 (2014), pp. 202-213

Please cite this article as: Campo-Arias A, Herazo E, Ceballos-Ospino GA. Revisión de casos, series de casos y estudios de prevalencia de zoofilia en la población general. Rev Colomb Psiquiat. 2021;50:34–38.

Copyright © 2019. Asociación Colombiana de Psiquiatría
Article options
Quizás le interese:
No mostrar más