Mark Rylance Urges the University of Bristol to Stop Tormenting Animals

Posted by on April 13, 2022 | Permalink

Oscar-winning actor Sir Mark Rylance – who just finished performing in Dr Semmelweiss at the Bristol Old Vic – sent a letter to the University of Bristol’s vice-chancellor, Hugh Brady, appealing to him to end the university’s use of the “cruel and useless” forced swim test on rats.

“As you are no doubt aware, this test forces rats to experience the fear of drowning. Researchers put the small animals into inescapable beakers of water, in which they have no choice but to paddle frantically as they search for an escape.”

– Sir Mark Rylance


The Forced Swim Test Is Bad Science

As Rylance points out in his letter, these experiments are used in attempts to study human conditions such as mental health disorders – but the test is not required or beneficial for producing new treatments for humans. “I’m urging you to listen to the science and end these tests immediately,” the actor writes.

The forced swim test has recently been debunked for its use in depression research in a scientific paper initiated by the Home Office. It concluded that the test cannot predict the efficacy of potential new antidepressant drugs, is a poor model of depression, and could even rule out effective new drugs for humans.

This leaves one question: why are these experiments continuing at the University of Bristol?

<Tormenting Rats Doesn’t Help Humans

At the University of Bristol, the test is being used intentionally to stress animals in an attempt to understand the fundamental human biology underlying mental health conditions – but the science does not translate. Forcing rats to swim in a beaker of water is doing a disservice to humans suffering with mental health disorders.

Imagine what an exhausting and distressing experience this must be for the animal: spending your life trapped in a cage, then being forced to take part in an experiment that intentionally causes you stress, only to be killed at the end of it.

Leading Universities and Companies Are Saying ‘No’ to This Cruel Test

Following discussions with PETA entities around the world, 15 companies and two universities, including King’s College London, have declared that they don’t intend to use the forced swim test in the future. PETA UK is calling on the University of Bristol to follow suit.

Join Over 30,000 People and Urge the University of Bristol to Be Nice to Rats

More than 30,000 people – including actor Joanna Lumley and Mayor of West England Dan Norris – have already joined us in calling on the university to take action.

Will you speak out for rats, too? Take action today: