Banned! PETA’s Drowning Mice Ads Rejected From Bristol Buses

Banned! PETA’s Drowning Mice Ads Rejected From Bristol Buses

Bristol – First Group has refused to place PETA ads depicting the University of Bristol’s forced swim tests – in which experimenters force rats and mice to swim for their lives in beakers of water – on buses taking students to and from the institution (Unibuses) “due to the sensitivity of the subject”. The ads are part of a PETA campaign pushing the university to embrace advanced, non-animal research and end the use of this archaic, cruel experiment.

In the forced swim test, mice and other rodents are placed in inescapable beakers of water and made to swim to keep from drowning. The study compares the time that the animal spends swimming and floating, on the assumption that this can tell us something about the psychological states of humans. Yet the test has been heavily criticised by experts who argue that floating is not a sign of despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment. Statistically, the test is less accurate than a coin toss in determining the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

“Sending mice into a panic by putting them into water-filled containers tell us nothing about the complexities of human depression,” says PETA Science Policy Manager Dr Julia Baines. “Banning these bus ads will not deter PETA from demanding an end to this widely discredited test.”

Last year, University of Bristol alumnus and The Maze Runner actor Will Poulter sent a letter to the institution’s vice chancellor imploring him to end the university’s use of forced swim experiments. He has yet to receive a response.

Following discussions with PETA and its international affiliates, King’s College London declared that it doesn’t intend to use the forced swim test in the future and 14 companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca, banned it.

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 FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]