A photographer says she captured two adult male lions exhibiting very affectionate, mating-like behavior at a safari destination in Botswana late last month.
The photos were taken at Kwando Concessions by Nicole Cambré, an internationally known, award-winning photographer based in Belgium.
The lions are pictured playfully pawing and gnawing at each other.
One picture appears to show one lion mounting the other.
She told Huffington Post about how it all played out while she was on safari:
According to our guide they had only started their behavior that same week. These intruder males had pushed out the resident males earlier in the year and the other female lions had headed into the Mopani woodlands, an area difficult to access with a safari vehicle.
Only one lioness was seen in the center of the concession where the male lions were and the lions showed no interest in the lioness leading to the assumption that she may have been pregnant. One of the lions was wearing a collar and our guide thought that they may have crossed from Namibia.
It is the first time I have seen homosexual behavior in lions but when reading about it upon my return, it is not that uncommon. With the light just around sunset, it gave some spectacular images.
Same-sex behavior has been observed many times in the animal kingdom.
According to the Yale Scientific, homosexual behavior has been documented in 450 different species.
In his 1999 book Biological Exuberance, Bruce Bagemihl, Ph.D., former professor of biology at the University of British Columbia, cited several of examples of same-sex mating behavior in animals, including lions.
He stated that "male lions 'head-rub' and roll around with each other before having sex together."
A recent article by National Geographic claims that one of the lions in the photo could be a female with a mane.
Though rare, instances of lionesses' with manes has been documented in regions of Botswana.
In a statement to Huffington Post, Cambré said that she was told by a guide that the lions were both male.