Caught in the act!
Photographer Russ Bridges captured these moments at the Yorkshire Wildlife Park in Doncaster. The lions are seen playing and copulatingin front of a lioness who appears to be completely unperturbed. Bridges stated:
There are two males and a female in that pride. One of the lions suddenly got up, walked over and jumped on his friend's back. A fair few people were watching this going on and laughing - they were all commenting on what it looked like. I think it was a bit of a 'should have gone to Specsavers' moment as the lioness was just lying there next to them. In fairness though, every time a male went near her she snarled and swiped their faces with her paw.
Being gay in the animal kingdom
Homosexuality is common in the animal world and has been the topic of many studies. Up to 450 different species have been documented as engaging in homosexual activity, according to Bruce Bagemihl's work 'Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity', published in 1999. He believes that:
It's not really unusual for them to act that way sometimes. I don't know if it's a dominance thing or something like that - it looks as if they are aggressive, but it's all play between friends.
Bridges, who had photographed the lions a few times before, detailed that the incident was the first time he had ever seen the lions act in such a way but that they really seemed to be displaying some pride:
I've never seen a shot of two males on top of one another with one sticking his tongue out before - it's like he's showing some pride in what he's doing.