Okay, so this is kind of crazy.

In 2005, Mr. Hands, a Boeing employee, died of internal bleeding and a perforated colon.  In and of itself this would not be that notable of an event. Except that it was a result of being anally penetrated by his pet horse, an Arabian stallion tragically named “Bullseye”. 

Zoo is a documentary focusing on the series of events that came slightly before and after this event. You see, Mr. Hands’ beloved Bullseye lived on a farm near Enumclaw, WA where it was common practice for people to love their horses and other animals in this way.

A columnist for Seattle’s The Stranger, Charles Mudede teams up with director Robninson Devor  to put together this film, largely based in recreations and audio interviews to preserve the anonymity of many of its subjects. The true success here is the respect given for everyone involved, including the family of the deceased, the men who run the farm and host the parties, and the voices who attend the parties or who have animals living on the farm.

Shortly after this event, a Youtube video began circulating of the events and teenagers around the world witnessed things that are arguably best kept only in the minds of interested parties. But the best choice of the director was to not include that video in any form and to instead focus on the emotional and sociological impacts of these events.

“This was a guy who was a conservative man at one point, and those ideas started breaking down for him. I think that 9/11 triggered a lot of it. But he was [also] in the center of one of the most secretive military complexes. Meanwhile, he listened to a lot of left-wing radio, he questioned everything our government was involved in, and he was ethically conflicted about his job and the money he was making. That’s the core fascination for me.” – Devor, describing his interest in the film’s subject. [7]

Back up a decade or so and we’re led back to an isolated farmhouse. It could be in Kentucky or elsewhere. It wouldn’t make a difference. A man’s voice tells us what the isolation is like. He talks about how things changed when the internet was available and he started…learning about things. We are led to believe that he learned that other people had similar interests and practices. But it has a certain character innocence. He could be talking about subculture or music or building model trains.

Thus begins our education about “zoos”, or people who love animals in the way that most humans experience emotions towards other humans. You see, the experience is not simply about sex; it’s explained to be as complicated of a relationship as we would have for our partner, our closest friend, or our children [barring the sex, one would hope].

The participants seem to come from respectable positions in society where they have corporate jobs. They gather for parties at the farm and socialize with each other. They are of all ages and social class does not exist here. Sometimes no sex with animals is involved or just does not transpire for whatever reason.

Shockingly, Rush Limbaugh provides some of the most insightful wisdom here saying that he doesn’t understand how their can be accusations of nonconsentsual sex when a male horse is on top. And the logic that I’d held all my life was suddenly shattered…by Rush Limbaugh.

Various men tell stories of how the horses are normally the instigators of sexual activity and can detect hormones and interest. There are touching stories of troubled times when someone would go out in the field to just sit with or be comforted by their horse. And most shockingly of all, the mother of the deceased tells the story of a sudden encounter where a pony performs oral sex on another horse in the early afternoon sun.

It’s not graphic, obscene, or exploitive. Almost the entire film is made up of recreations. And more importantly, it changed my entire view and opinion of zoophilia. Or at least brought me to a place of much greater understanding.

Joe Biel is the founder of Microcosm Publishing (who has a new website) Cantankerous Titles

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