Ban Animal Torment! PETA Offers £24k to University of Bristol to End Forced Swim Test

Bristol – The University of Bristol has the dubious distinction of being one of the last remaining institutions in the UK to conduct the abysmally cruel forced swim test, and PETA sent a letter to the institution’s vice chancellor asking her to permanently end the use of the test. If she agrees and implements a ban in 2024, PETA will donate £24,000 to the university. It is hoped that the Home Office’s recent decision to ban the use of the test as a model of human depression or for studies of anxiety and its treatment and to further restrict other uses of it will encourage the University of Bristol to ban its use of the test.

In the widely discredited experiment, mice and rats are placed into beakers of water and forced to swim, inducing the fear of drowning. They attempt to climb the sides of the containers and even dive underwater in search of an escape. The animals become visibly stressed, and many defecate during the procedure – and there is a documented risk of drowning or water aspiration. Experimenters erroneously believe this can somehow reveal something about human mental health conditions. However, because humans and other animals have many neurobiological differences, it is doubtful that the behaviour animals display when subjected to this experiment is relevant to the human clinical condition. And experimenters kill the animals when they are done with them – either by gassing, inflicting blunt-force trauma to the head, inducing anaesthetic overdose, or breaking their necks.

“The forced swim test does not translate to humans, yet the University of Bristol continues to defend it,” says PETA Vice President of Programmes and Operations Elisa Allen. “PETA is calling on the vice chancellor to drop this cruel and pointless experiment and use our donation to support innovative animal-free research or any other worthy cause that leaves animals in peace.”

Freedom of information requests revealed that among other institutions, the universities of Liverpool, Brighton, Exeter, Manchester, Nottingham, and Southampton as well as Newcastle University and King’s College London neither use the forced swim test nor intend to do so in the future.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or follow the group on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, or Instagram.


Lucy Watson +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]