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Pan copulating with a goat; marble sculpture from the ancient city of Herculaneum.

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Zoophilia is a paraphilia defined as sexual attraction by a human to non-human animals. Human/animal sexual interaction is referred to as Bestiality, or simply animal sex; the term bestiality is also used, especially in legal and negative contexts, and certain people use the non-existing term 'zoosexuality' .The quite ambiguous term sodomy has also sometimes been used for bestiality. In pornography, Bestiality is occasionally referred to as "farmsex".

Zoophilia is often considered to be unnatural, and Bestiality has been condemned as animal abuse; however, some such as philosopher Peter Singer argue that this is not inherently the case. Zoophilia is illegal in many jurisdictions, while others generally outlaw the mistreatment of animals without specifically mentioning Bestiality. Just over half of U.S. states explicitly outlaw zoophilia (sometimes under the name sodomy). In Australia laws are also determined state by state, with only the Australian Capital Territory and Jervis Bay Territory not explicitly outlawing it. In Germany, sex with animals is not specifically outlawed; in West Germany, the law making it a crime was removed in 1969, while in East Germany (until the German reunification), there never was a law against zoophilia at all. In England, where the sentence was originally the death penalty, section 69 of the 'Sexual Offences Act 2003' reduced it to a maximum of 2 years imprisonment.

The extent to which Bestiality occurs is controversial. Zoophilia advocates claim that the human/animal relationship goes far beyond sexuality, and that they are capable of forming a loving relationship with an animal that can frequently last several years and that they do not consider functionally different from any other love/sex relationship.

Zoophilia in pornography

Pornography involving Bestiality is widely illegal, even in most countries where the act itself is not explicitly outlawed. In the United States, this pornography is automatically considered obscene and therefore may not be sold, mailed or imported (production and mere possession appear to be legal however). Similar restrictions obtain in Germany (cf. 184 StGB [1]).

Materials featuring animal sex are widely available on the Internet, however, mainly because their production and sale is legal in countries like the Netherlands and Denmark. Pornography of this sort has become known as the stock in trade of a particular class of spammers. Email spam featuring women having sex with goats and dogs usually casts the activity as a form of sexual degradation.

Zoophilia in mythology

Zoophilia has been a frequent subject in art, literature, and fantasy. In Greek mythology, Zeus appeared to Leda in the form of a swan (resulting in the birth of Helen and Polydeuces), and the Minotaur was the offspring of Queen Pasiphae and a white bull. The God Pan has also been frequently associated with animal sex.

Erotic furry fantasy art and stories have been accused of promoting zoophilia, but defenders point out that the characters are predominantly humanoid fantasy creatures who are thinking, reasoning beings as capable of giving consent as any human. Furry characters have been compared to other non-human characters who are subjects of love/sexuality fantasies, such as the Vulcans and Klingons in Star Trek.

See also