Sexual fantasies about zoophilic acts can occur in people who do not have any wish to experience them in real life.
Nancy Friday notes that zoophilia as a fantasy may provide an escape from cultural expectations, restrictions, and judgements in regard to sex.
Williams and Weinberg also quoted a British newspaper saying that zoophilia is a term used by "apologists" for bestiality.
The Kinsey reports rated the percentage of people who had sexual interaction with animals at some point in their lives as 8% for men and 3.6% for women, and claimed it was 40–50% in people living near farms, but some later writers dispute the figures, because the study lacked a random sample in that it included a disproportionate number of prisoners, causing sampling bias.
The nature of animal minds, animal mental processes and structures, and animal self-awareness, perception, emotion in animals, and "map of the world", are studied within animal cognition and also explored within various specialized branches of neuroscience such as neuroethology.
In the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), zoophilia is placed in the classification "other specified paraphilic disorder" Zoophilia may also be covered to some degree by other fields such as ethics, philosophy, law, animal rights and animal welfare.
Zoophilia is a paraphilia involving a sexual fixation on non-human animals.
Bestiality is cross-species sexual activity between human and non-human animals.
By 1974, the farm population in the USA had declined by 80 percent compared with 1940, reducing the opportunity to live with animals; Hunt's 1974 study suggests that these demographic changes led to a significant change in reported occurrences of bestiality.
Masters (1962) says that some brothel madams used to stage exhibitions of animals mating, as they found it aroused potential clientele, and that this may have encouraged the clients to engage in bestiality.
Zoophilia has been partly discussed by several sciences: Psychology (the study of the human mind), sexology (a relatively new discipline primarily studying human sexuality), ethology (the study of animal behavior), and anthrozoology (the study of human-animal interactions and bonds).
It may also be touched upon by sociology which looks both at zoosadism in examining patterns and issues related to sexual abuse and at non-sexual zoophilia in examining the role of animals as emotional support and companionship in human lives, and may fall within the scope of psychiatry if it becomes necessary to consider its significance in a clinical context. 18, February 2011) states that sexual contact with animals is almost never a clinically significant problem by itself; Additionally, zoophiles in categories 2, 3, and 8 (romantic zoophiles, zoophilic fantasizers, and regular zoophiles) are the most common, while zoophiles found in categories 6 and 7 (sadistic bestials and opportunistic zoophiles) are the least common.
Zoophilia may reflect childhood experimentation, sexual abuse or lack of other avenues of sexual expression.