PETA’s Protesters Urge University of Bristol to Ban Near-Drowning Test

Posted by on June 7, 2024 | Permalink

The University of Bristol is insisting on pursuing cruel and worthless forced swimming tests using rats. PETA will stop these experiments. Here are our latest actions:

Update (7 June 2024): PETA Supporters Kick Up a Stink at the University of Bristol
Earlier today, a group of PETA supporters holding signs reading, “UoB: Cruelty Stinks! Drop the Forced Swim Test,” stormed a University of Bristol networking event. One activist proclaimed, “The University of Bristol tortures rats and mice with a cruel near-drowning experiment called the forced swim test. Bristol: cruelty stinks! Drop the forced swim test now!”

Adam Weeden

Update (24 May 2024): Change Is in the Air: PETA Balloon Has a Life-Saving Message
Student activists collaborated with PETA to release a balloon banner at the University of Bristol. Everyone in Senate House saw the banner, which urged the university to let the forced swim test go!

Update (14 May 2024): PETA US Supporters Slam University of Bristol for Continuing to Use the Cruel Forced Swim Test at University Event in New York
Today, a throng of PETA US supporters confronted the University of Bristol’s vice-chancellor and president during an alumni event at The Century Association in New York.

Here’s what happened:

Update (24 April 2024): On World Day for Animals in Laboratories, ‘Dr Killsalot’ – the ‘Head of Animal Torture’ – Urges University of Bristol to ‘End the Mad Science’
To mark World Day for Animals in Laboratories, a PETA activist wearing a sooty laboratory coat, goggles, and gloves, posing as “Dr Killsalot” – the “Head of Animal Torture” – conducted a botched “experiment” outside a University of Bristol building. They stood before a table draped with a banner reading, “Bristol Uni: End the Mad Science. Drop the Forced Swim Test,” and containing three large water-filled cylinders with “rats” in them and smoky test tubes.

Elsewhere, in Bremen, Germany, PETA entity supporters crashed the Times Higher Education Europe Universities Summit, interrupting a speech by the University of Bristol’s vice-chancellor. Here’s how the events unfolded:

Update (5 April 2024): PETA Protests Outside Association for Art History Conference
PETA supporters protested outside the 2024 Association for Art History annual conference to speak up for animals in laboratories by pushing the University of Bristol – which was represented at the event – to drop the notorious forced swim test.


Today we are at the 2024 annual conference of the Association for Art History, to keep speaking up for animals in laboratories and pushing the @University of Bristol attending the event, to drop the notorious forced swim test. #BristolBeNicetoMice #BadScience #endspeciesism

♬ original sound – PETA

Update (10 March 2024): PETA Offers £24k to University of Bristol to End Forced Swim Test
Because the University of Bristol retains the dubious distinction of being one of the last institutions in the UK to conduct the abysmally cruel forced swim test, PETA sent a letter to the institution’s vice-chancellor asking her to permanently end the use of the abhorrent test. If she agrees and implements a ban in 2024, PETA will donate £24,000 to the university.

Update (19 October 2023): PETA Disrupts State of the City Address Over University of Bristol’s Near-Drowning Test on Animals
PETA supporters stormed the stage at the Wills Memorial Building, disrupting the State of the City address at the 2023 Festival of the Future City, which included contributions from the mayor and the University of Bristol’s vice-chancellor, to expose the school’s shameful refusal to ban the cruel forced swim test.

Update (17 October 2023): PETA’s ‘Rat’ Protests Outside the University of Bristol’s London Alumni Branch Annual Lecture in the House of Lords
PETA supporters were outside of the University of Bristol’s London Alumni Branch Annual Lecture in the House of Lords urging the institution to drop the cruel forced swim test.

Update (9 September 2023):
As the University of Bristol welcomed 20,000 prospective students, PETA shared information that would surely be omitted from the day – mice and rats are tormented in the forced swim test.

PETA’s protesters shone a light on the university’s experiments on animals, and horrified parents expressed that they would share their concerns with university officials.

Update (13 July 2023):
PETA supporters joined by activists from Animal Rising invaded the stage at the Wills Memorial Building, disrupting a panel discussion about the future of universities that included the University of Bristol’s deputy vice chancellor and other officials, to expose the university’s shameful refusal to ban the cruel forced swim test.

Update (17 May 2023):

PETA US supporters armed with signs reading “Ban the animal torture” confronted University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor and President Evelyn Welch during a New York City alumni event.

Protesters exposed the institution’s shameful refusal to ban the forced swim test at the Raines Law Room lounge.

The activists filled the room chanting, “Ban the forced swim test now!” before being escorted out by security.

Update (16 May 2023):

BAFTA-winning actor Richard E Grant – who just kicked off his A Pocketful of Happiness book tour at the Bristol Hippodrome theatre – sent a letter to University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor Professor Evelyn Welch, appealing to her to end the university’s “horrific” forced swim experiments on terrified rats.

“My career has taken me everywhere from Penrith to a galaxy far, far away. And while I’ve experienced some absurd things on my travels, even I couldn’t believe it when I heard that the forced swim test is still used at your university,” writes Grant. “I can only imagine how terrified rats must feel as experimenters put them into inescapable beakers of water, in which they paddle frantically in search of an escape – pawing at the sides of the beaker and diving to the bottom – but to no avail. Once experimenters have finished subjecting the animals to this cruelty, they kill them.”

Update (23 March 2023):

Students at the University of Bristol took the lead and recently staged a sit-in at the university’s administrative hub, Beacon House. Security was immediately dispatched – but rather than forcibly removing the strong-willed activists, they wished them luck! Over the course of several hours, the students refused requests to leave and accepted even more support from those passing by.

Update: (4 March 2023):

A group of PETA supporters crashed the University of Bristol’s annual Neuroscience Festival at the Victoria Rooms, where they stormed the stage in order to expose the institution’s shameful refusal to ban the forced swim test.

Update (December 2022):

Campus or crime scene? Ahead of the University of Bristol’s December senate meeting, PETA supporters lay on the ground in the chalk outlines of rats outside the vice-chancellor’s office building in the city centre. Cordoned off with yellow tape, the “crime scene” drew attention to the university’s continued use of the cruel and useless forced swim test, which ultimately ends in the killing of sensitive, intelligent rats. Next to the bodies, evidence markers read, “Tormenting rats tells us nothing about human mental health” and “The forced swim test delays drug discovery”.

Update (November 2022):

“Uni of Bristol tortures rats in beerserk experiments. Take action to end it!” That’s the message a massive “rat” from PETA delivered outside the CAMRA Bristol Beer Festival. The unmissable mascot, flanked by PETA supporters, handed out custom-made beer mats to attendees, demanding that the University of Bristol ban controversial tests in which small animals are forced to swim for their lives before being killed.

Update (October 2022):

PETA’s “zombies” want to put the final nail in the forced swim test’s coffin. Ahead of Halloween, a mob of PETA supporters dressed as brain-dead zombie scientists swarmed Senate House to urge University of Bristol experimenters to use their brains, ban the cruel and useless forced swim test and other near-drowning experiments on small animals, and embrace modern, non-animal research.

September 2022:

PETA Hands Out Freebies to University of Bristol Students – But They Come With a Harsh Truth

Visitors Warned of Animal Torture at University of Bristol Open Day

August 2022:

PETA Crashes the Balloon Party With a Giant ‘Rat’

April 2022:

PETA Haunts the University of Bristol With Grim Reapers

Mark Rylance Urges the University of Bristol to Stop Tormenting Animals

February 2022:

Valentine’s Day: PETA Urges University of Bristol to Have a Heart for Animals

December 2021:

University of Bristol: Students’ Union Condemns Forced Swim Test!

PETA ‘Rat’ Gives Out Free Face Masks – With a Message

November 2021:

The Age of Experiments on Animals Is Over

September 2021:

PETA Makes a Splash in Bristol With Drowning Rat Billboard

‘Rat’ Dunked in Tank to Protest Cruel Tests at University of Bristol

PETA ‘Rat’ Stands Against Bad Forced Swim Test Science

August 2021:

The Things the University of Bristol Does to Rats Are Absolutely Awful – Joanna Lumley Agrees

July 2021:

What Happened at Our Forced Swim Test Virtual Disruptions?

April 2021:

Banned! PETA’s Near-Drowning Mice Ads Rejected From Buses

February 2021:

‘Have a Heart This Valentine’s Day’: Universities Urged to Drop Forced Swim Test

December 2020:

Will Poulter Urges University of Bristol to Ban Forced Swim Experiments

Rats Are Forced to Tread Water, Then Killed

In the widely criticised tests, experimenters induce panic in vulnerable small animals such as rats, who may or may not be dosed with a substance, by putting them into inescapable cylinders of water in which they must swim, terrified they will drown.

They attempt to climb the steep sides of the container and even dive underwater to look for an escape. This is done under the erroneous assumption it can reveal something about mental health conditions in humans.

Once the test is complete, experimenters kill the animals – either by gassing, blunt force trauma to the head, an overdose of anaesthetic, or breaking their necks – to study their brains.

Several universities, including King’s College London, and many major pharmaceutical companies have stopped subjecting animals to these cruel near-drowning tests. It’s time the University of Bristol followed suit and invested in humane, human-relevant, non-animal methods.

Rats Need YOU! Join the Campaign

University of Bristol experimenters must drop these dead-end experiments. When we ask, they listen. Join our campaign and help us keep the pressure on!