New NatGeo Study: Mules May be Sterile but Polar Bears Can’t Stop Masturbating

by LIA KORNMEHL

In their January 2020 newsletter, National Geographic’s bi-annual Animal Sexual Activity (ASA) Report detailed that while mules are still sterile, new evidence shows that polar bears masturbate an average of 18 hours a day. The data was recorded from a study of 37 polar bears, or virtually the planet’s entire remaining polar bear population.

“It was fascinating to watch,” wrote lead researcher Jeff Handle in the report. “Once they start going at it, it’s over 17 hours before paw exits crotch.” The study was conducted over 6 months in which the researchers followed the groups of bears as they trekked the Arctic Circle looking for fish to eat and meat to beat. 

Interestingly, the ASA report showed that female bears were able to exert some self-control, usually ceasing fanning the fur after reaching climax. The male bears, however, were physically unable to stop whacking the wookie despite facial expressions that clearly connoted intense hand cramping and extreme general discomfort. “Once the male bears set up on the ice, a switch seems to flip in their brain that makes jerkin’ the gherkin their primary—their sole—priority,” reported junior researcher Anna Bow. 

While this behavior may seem contradictory to polar bears’ natural urge to mate, the recorded number of births remained largely constant across the duration of the study. “Other animals aren’t so lucky,” cautioned Jennifer Smith, chief of National Geographic’s Comparative Animal Activity Unit (CAAU). “Take the mule, for example. No matter what it does, it’s unfortunately permanently sterile. It lives a sad life, surrounded by nothing that loves it, and stares at the ground for hours each day.”

February’s ASA report will look at the complex and intimate relationships between bobcats and mice. 

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