Sexual relations between humans and animals have been fundamentally approached as a pathology within the fields of health science and biomedical science. Such research has not taken into account the contextual and symbolic nature of so-called zoophilia. Very few studies have analysed zoophilia from the perspective of the social sciences. The taboo surrounding these practices has silenced a reality that is present in countless societies. This paper examines the different ways in which this phenomenon has been tackled in disciplines such as anthropology, sociology and history, allowing us to understand the different meanings and significances of zoophilia depending on the historical and cultural context. The category of zoophilia encompasses a plural reality. Factors such as age, gender or the unequal significance of animals help us to understand a complex phenomenon, which calls into question the radical separation between humans and animals, as highlighted by more recent research within the field of anthropology.