Sir David Attenborough’s BBC wildlife programmes have been criticised for assuming animals are heterosexual.
Brett Mills, a Senior Lecturer at the University of East Anglia, made the point after watching a number of the veteran presenter’s documentaries.
He has also suggested animals have a right to privacy which should be taken more seriously by documentary makers.
In his work the academic gives an example of two male chimps hugging – where the documentary voiceover explains they are seeking to “re-establish their bonds of friendship”.
But Dr Mills says: “This ignores alternative interpretations”.
He said the BBC programmes are “highly regarded and educational but they should also be offering alternative interpretations of animal behaviour”.
“The central role in documentary stories of pairing, mating and raising offspring commonly rests on assumptions of heterosexuality within the animal kingdom.”
Dr Mills’ work was published in the European Journal of Clinical Studies.
In 2010 a scientific study said same-sex penguin ‘pairs’ are not homosexual, they are just lonely.
According to the findings, some male penguins may form a ‘bond’ with another male due to a lack of females in the colony but over time they do find an opposite-sex mate.