Disclaimer: First off, I want to say that I do not claim to have observed these bears. I don’t personally know anything at all about bears. If you told me that bears had sex while humming a Beatles song, I would believe it. So, what I am quoting here is an article in today’s Huffington Post by Ryan Grendel. He, in turn, is quoting a report from the Polish Academy of Science. I know what you’re thinking already; this is some kind of elaborate Polish joke, like how many Polish male bears does it take to have sex when there are no female bears around? No. Nothing of the sort. This is a straight-up account of two male bears going down on each other on the average of once every four hours for a day or so. Each act, (according to Mr. Grendel, who is quoting the Polish authorities) lasts between one minute and four minutes. I do not vouch for this story any more than I would if I heard about it on Fox news, but anything is possible. End of disclaimer.
Picture these Croatian bears who, rather than having sex demurely in the back of the cave, are exhibiting themselves shamelessly to a bunch of Polish investigators who are taking notes on everything they do. Stop-watch in hand. Even granting that the Polish observers may be egging them on, the behavior they enter into, which is too awful to contemplate — and I will not describe it here —was so off-putting that a female bear who wandered over to them immediately wandered off again. After a lot of close observation, probably with the aid of photographic devices, these Polish investigators describe in detail what the “provider” does to the “receiver,” which I think is too ambiguous to understand. And that is just as well.
The Polish investigators take a very modern, non-judgmental view of these bears, whom, they mention almost in passing, are both male. As if that didn’t matter at all. In a dismissive tone, they point out that such intimate behavior occurs also in other animals, including primates (presumably other than human beings, otherwise they would have come right out and said so), goats, sheep, cheetahs, spotted hyenas and the short-nosed fruit bat. You think I’m making this up again, but you’re wrong. How in the world does someone get close enough to a cheetah to see such usually private behavior? Not to mention the short-nosed fruit bat.
After a lot of heavy thinking, the Polish scientists have come up with a theory for this behavior, which is after all not uncommon also among humans, sometimes performed by one sex, sometimes by another. As a psychiatrist, I have met individuals who report that they performed, or had performed on them, fellatio. And I have no reason to disbelieve them. Which is the “provider” and which the “receiver,” is problematic. Perhaps here is the explanation for such behavior, not only in bears, but in human beings also.
Their theory: These bears needed more sucking because they suffered “premature curtailment of maternal suckling,” as the result of their being orphaned at an early age. There you have it. Perhaps human beings also were refused the breast or the bottle during some critical childhood stage and thereafter because interested forever after in performing oral sex on men. “The provider may have found a substitute for teat-sucking that also resulted in a let-down of substitute ‘milk,’” they say. It’s as plain as the nose on your face.
Still, I don’t think we can arguing a scientific idea like this from the experience of observing only two bears — or a whole bunch of bears, for that matter. I propose, therefore, that you readers might consider taking a poll of those whom you know to have some experience of this phenomenon and ask them about their breast and bottle feeding, and when they were introduced to solid foods as babies. This is the way science progresses. Someone makes an observation, like the first person who observed an eclipse of the moon, and everyone’s powers of observation are brought to bear. And a new Truth emerges.
(c) Fredric Neuman Author of "Detroit Tom and His Gang." Follow Dr. Neuman's blog at fredricneumanmd.com/blo/ or ask advice at fredricneumanmd.com/blog/ask-dr-neuman-advice-column