Wild Animals/procreation

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Question
Giving birth and caring for one's youth takes much dedication and energy. There is no evidence that animals care for their elderly parents apart from maybe Elephants. Do animal procreate purely out of biological instinct to spread their genes? is there any evidence showing that any animal actually enjoy the experience? Apart from human, does any animal procreate as a choice instead of merely a preprogrammed biological instinct?

Answer
Dear Linda,

There are only two species, other than humans, that have been shown to have sex for fun and bonding.  Those are Bottlenose Dolphins and Pygmy Chimpanzees.  

We don't really know for sure whether other species enjoy sex, though the males certainly must get a positive outcome to be so aggressively seeking it all the time.  We can't really get into their heads to know for sure.  Still, since the only animals who *know* they're spreading their genes are humans (and since a lot of humans take great steps to prevent spreading their genes while still having sex), it's not unlikely to suspect that non-human species do experience a positive stimulus when having sex, or they probably would not engage in it.  Those who didn't have a strong sex drive would be pretty rapidly out of the gene pool.  

It would be reasonable to think that social species would be more likely to have been selected to bond via sexual union, so I'd start the research there.  

Not sure that helps, but there it is.

Dana

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Dana Krempels, Ph.D.

Expertise

I'm an evolutionary biologist with a passion for animals. Ask about natural history, behavior, ecology, evolution. PLEASE NOTE:

If you have found an "orphaned" or injured wild animal or bird:
Please don't waste time asking questions on the internet, as the answers may come too late. DO NOT FEED THE ANIMAL, and DO NOT HANDLE IT unless it is in imminent danger. (Many wild "orphans" are not orphans at all!) If you are absolutely sure it is orphaned, keep it warm and quiet, and find a LICENSED WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR HERE. Don't try to raise a baby yourself, or rehabilitate an injured anmal. Many a well-intentioned rescuer will do more harm than good, especially with baby birds and baby rabbits.

I.D. OF MYSTERY ANIMALS
Without geographic location, time of day and habitat, I can't help. A clear picture is always best.

I.D. OF MYSTERY ANIMAL SOUNDS
It's impossible for me to I.D. an animal call without hearing it myself.

COMPARATIVE STRENGTHS
I'm not an expert on comparative strengths of different animals (more complicated than you might think!) nor bite forces.

FIGHTING ANIMALS
I refuse to answer "Which of these two animals--X or X--would win in a fight?".

These hypothetical matchups range from impossible (Grizzly Bears and Gorillas don't even occupy the same continent.) to ridiculous (Someone asked me "Who would win a fight between a Great White Shark and a tiger?").

The vast majority of animals--even the fierce and powerful--are not as warlike as Homo sapiens, and it's childish to project our aggressiveness onto them.

Experience

I have been the fortunate caregiver to a group of Black-tailed Jackrabbits rescued from the Miami International Airport, and not releasable in this area because they are not native. I also have rehabbed and released Eastern Cottontails, and am in contact with many very experienced wildlife rescuers who regularly handle injured or orphaned rabbits and hares.

Organizations
House Rabbit Society

Publications
Exotic DVM journal

Education/Credentials
I have a Ph.D. in Biology, with main areas of expertise in evolutionary biology, genetics, botany, and ecology.

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