London museum goes wild with animal sex show

By Agence France-Presse
Thursday, February 10, 2011 15:26 EDT
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LONDON – A museum in London is throwing caution to the wind for an exhibition on sex in the animal kingdom complete with copulating chimps and randy rabbits — just in time for Valentine’s Day.

“Sexual Nature” at the Natural History Museum explores the diverse ways in which animals have evolved to procreate, such as a snail’s love darts, the detachable penis of the paper nautilus, or the outsized testes of the promiscuous chimp.

The exhibition, which opens on Friday, also looks at human sexual behaviour in the context of other species.

“We ask visitors to leave their preconceptions at the door,” curator Tate Greenhalgh told AFP.

“This exhibition is about the relationship between sex and evolution and the bizarre, surprising adaptations that animals have evolved to procreate as much as possible.

“We ask people to be open-minded when looking at potentially surprising, maybe shocking things that animals do that would be outlawed in human society.”

Visitors are greeted by a video projection of bonobo apes, some of our closest relatives, having sex — sometimes with a baby clinging on the back, or midway through munching a pineapple.

“We can’t judge other animals by our moral codes, just as we don’t base our rules on their behaviour,” museum-goers are told.

TV screens also show Isabella Rossellini’s humorous “Green Porno” clips, with the Italian film actress dressing up as animals and acting out their mating rituals.

The exhibition, which because of its content is aimed at the over-16s, shows the seduction techniques deployed by different species and the thorny issues of sexual selection and male-female power battles.

Stuffed rabbits and foxes in the act are on show, while penis bones are also displayed, from the giant-sized walrus example to the hair’s breadth penis bone of a bat.

One of the chief exhibits is Guy the Gorilla, London Zoo’s most famous post-war resident. Now stuffed, he exemplifies the kind of massive primate who would run a harem of women, chase off rivals, yet display a gentle side too.

The human section features a magnetic poetry wall where people can stick romantic words together in an attempt to conjure up a winning chat-up line.

“We’re affected by the same evolutionary principles: sexual selection, how we attract mates and find them,” Greenhalgh said.

Richard Sabin, the museum’s senior curator of mammals, said it was the first time the Victorian institution had addressed the sexual side of natural history.

“This is an opportunity for people to re-examine themselves, to look at what we all have to do to survive, which is reproduce,” he told AFP.

“It shows the lengths these animals are driven to to perpetuate their genes to ensure they take forward their species.”

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  • James “Jesus Glasses” Corbett

    Queen Victoria told her daughter that sex was disagreeable enough that she should “Just lay back and think of England.” At the time the Brits had several devices, including a tack filled metal sheath that could be used to prevent erections. Masturbation was considered evidence of mental illness, and as for Lesbianism, Victoria crossed out reference to such in legislation criminalizing homosexual activity, commenting, “Women don’t do such things.” Perhaps the Brits needed some lessons from the animals?

  • http://profiles.yahoo.com/u/JOFFWKUYN3IGG7UMLLVL5EPAJ4 Egret

    “The exhibition, which because of its content is aimed at the over-16s…”

    “There,” says [Bilgewater], “if that line don’t fetch them, I don’t know Arkansaw!”

  • Anonymous

    If the exhibit follows the strictly binary and dimorphic examples brought up here, it’s an epic FAIL that only serves to reinforce the idea that Life = XY-spermed Male + XX-egged Female.

    Nature (*or God if you are so inclined, but then why bother with the conversation at all?) has invented such grand variation in forms and methods to allow genes to survive via propagation. Showing only a binary representation, with variations seemingly based on anatomical comparison to human males and females is disingenuous to say the least, and even potentially harmful.

  • Anonymous

    Disgusting !

    … next thing ya know, they’re gonna be showin’ animals … engaging in humanality.

  • Anonymous

    I remember in the 70′s a movie called, Birds do it bees do it. Different species mating, for a young virgin at that the time it was fascinating and horrifying at the same time.