Human–animal marriage is a concept not recognized in law by any state, although attempts to marry humans to other animals have been recorded. The topic has frequently existed in terms of magical fiction, in contrast to those with rationalist perspectives.
Background and context
Folklore relationships between human beings and non-human animals exist throughout many different cultures in varying ways given the diversity of mythological stories. Generally speaking, however, analysis by scholars such as Lutz Röhrich have found common elements in that domesticated animals appear to flourish in these tales only after agricultural civilization develops. Animals perceived as being fundamentally 'wild', such as ants and fish, possess abilities that assist protagonists while still exercising independent natures, such as fish choosing to retrieve things accidentally discarded in water. Closer association with humans and a sense of being less dangerous correlates with higher perceived intelligence and notions of human-animal bonding. In tales from Africa to Australia to North America and elsewhere, many origin myths view animals and humans descending together into Earth; a great many stories chronicled pre-Enlightenment depict the likes of cats, dogs, and roosters interacting with people at a roughly even level.
Human-animal marriages specifically are a theme in many mythological stories. In the more recent European context, stories possessing that theme are likely to have story-lines where humans turn into animals as a form of humiliation and setting it all right becomes a protagonist's burden. In other, older tribal contexts, a noted fluidity exists, such as story-lines featuring animals switching forms at will into humans. The more recent, European folktales generally refrain from depicting the human and animal couplings in that fashion. Particularly, the marriages do not involve sexual relations between the human and animal partners. The philosophical hierarchy of humanity above regular animal life is directly implied. The rise of modern civilization and the spread of rationalist thinking, in folktale storytelling terms, mean not just more defined lines between people and regular animals but also an increased sense of detachment and disenchantment: humans as more alien from nature.