Act of Love: A Strange, Wonderful Visual Dictionary of Animal Courtship

As various nature documentaries over the years have made explicit, the animal kingdom possesses courtship rituals of such yearning and grace, they can make the erotic fumblings of our species seem a very clumsy dance indeed.

The above spot for Japan’s first condom manufacturer, Sagami Industries, offers a vision of how humans might bring a little animal feeling to their tender moments.

(It’s worth noting that while this delight is sponsored by a condom company, humans are the only animal to take prophylactic measures to ward off sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.)

Like actress Isabella Rossellini, creator of the marvelous Green Porno series, director Greg Brunkalla has an eye for both the fascinating and the absurd.

But without Rossellini’s plainspoken narration, this Act of Love remains mysterious, until the end, when the identity of the creatures the human dancers are embodying is revealed. Those of us who aren’t zoologists will likely find that their clothing provides the clearest clues up until that point.

Bisexual behavior is rampant in the animal world, but outside of a not particularly kinky-seeming pink-clad group, the five couples in the ad are all heterosexual.

Sagami’s English website takes a broader view, with in-depth reports on the sexual practices of 73 different beasts, birds and insects. Taxonomy, habitat, and size range are noted – a scientific approach to what could very well serve as non-human online dating profiles.

Australia’s Superb Fairy Wrens are into open relationships.

Lionesses’ unabashed preference for virile young males gets them dubbed “true cougars.”

And E.B. White fans may find themselves shocked by the vigor of coupling orb weavers, seemingly the one fact of spider life Charlotte refrained from explaining to her piglet friend, Wilbur :

After mating, the male suddenly severs the mating thread so that both he and the female end up dangling at separate ends. This may look like a very abrupt parting of ways, but not so fast! The male immediately re-strings his mating thread and resumes his strumming. And despite having been cast off so suddenly, the female again falls under the spell of his courtship vibrations, transferring to the new mating thread to mate a second time. As soon as they do so, the male severs the thread once more so that the two spiders can go through the whole routine again…and again and again and again. 

Explore Sagami’s entire collection of not-so-private animal lives here.

Related Content:

Watch Isabella Rossellini Embody the Animal Kingdom’s Most Shocking Maternal Instincts in Mammas

Watch Family Planning, Walt Disney’s 1967 Sex Ed Production, Starring Donald Duck

The Turin Erotic Papyrus: The Oldest Known Depiction of Human Sexuality (Circa 1150 B.C.E.)

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday

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