London museum goes wild with animal sex show

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."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Guru Careers: Product Manager / Product Marketing Manager / Product Owner

    COMPETITIVE: Guru Careers: A Product Manager / Product Owner is required to jo...

    Guru Careers: Carpenter / Maintenance Operator

    £25k plus Benefits: Guru Careers: A Carpenter and Maintenance Operator is need...

    Recruitment Genius: Visitor Experience Coordinator

    £17600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum cares for one of the largest...

    Recruitment Genius: Experienced PSV Coach & Minibus Drivers

    £12500 - £24500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Drivers wanted for a family run...

    Day In a Page

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

    Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

    I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
    Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

    Margaret Atwood on climate change

    The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

    New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

    What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
    Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

    The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

    Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
    Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

    Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

    The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
    Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

    Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

    The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
    Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

    Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

    Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

    Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

    Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

    Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

    The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
    10 best waterproof mascaras

    Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

    We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
    Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

    Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

    Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
    Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

    The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
    Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

    British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open
    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkey's conflict with Kurdish guerrillas in Iraq can benefit Isis in Syria

    Turkish President Erdogan could benefit politically from the targeting of the PKK, says Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: Our choice is years of Tory rule under Jeremy Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Our choice is years of Tory rule under Corbyn or a return to a Labour government

    Yvette Cooper urged Labour members to 'get serious' about the next general election rather than become 'a protest movement'