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Zoophilia is a paraphilia involving cross-species sexual activity between human and non-human animals or a fixation on such practice. The term zoophilia derives from the combination of two nouns in Greek: ζῷον (zṓion, meaning "animal") and φιλία (philia, meaning "(fraternal) love"). As a suffix, -philia indicates an abnormal liking for or tendency towards a given thing. Thus, the term denotes an abnormal human sexual attraction to animals.
Although sex with animals is not outlawed in some countries, in most countries, bestiality is illegal under animal abuse laws or laws dealing with crimes against nature.
Three key terms commonly used in regards to the subject – "zoophilia", "bestiality", and "zoosexuality" – are often used somewhat interchangeably. People who practice zoophilia are known as "zoophiles", though also sometimes as "zoosexuals", or even very simply "zoos". Zooerasty, sodomy, and zooerastia are other terms closely related to the subject but are less synonymous with the former terms, and are seldom used. "Bestiosexuality" was discussed briefly by Allen (1979), but never became widely established.
The term "zoophilia" was introduced into the field of research on sexuality in Psychopathia Sexualis (1886) by Krafft-Ebing, who described a number of cases of "violation of animals (bestiality)", as well as "zoophilia erotica", which he defined as a sexual attraction to animal skin or fur. In general contemporary usage, the term "zoophilia" may refer to sexual activity between human and non-human animals, the desire to engage in such, or to the specific paraphilia (i.e., the atypical arousal) which indicates a definite preference for non-human animals over humans as sexual partners. Although Krafft-Ebing also coined the term "zooerasty" for the paraphilia of exclusive sexual attraction to animals, that term has fallen out of general use.
Hokusai Katsushika's (葛飾北斎, 1760–1849) The Dream of the Fisherman's Wife.
The term "zoosexual" was proposed by Hani Miletski in 2002 as a value-neutral term. Usage of "zoosexual" as a noun (in reference to a person) is synonymous with zoophile, while the adjectival form of the word – as, for instance, in the phrase "zoosexual act" – may indicate sexual activity between a human and a non-human animal.