King’s College London Ends Use of Forced Swim Test on All Animals

For Immediate Release:

13 January 2020


Jennifer White +44 (0) 20 7837 6327, ext 222; [email protected]


University Says No to Near-Drowning Tests After Discussions With PETA

London – PETA is sending a congratulatory box of vegan chocolates to Professor Sir Robert Lechler, provost and senior vice president of health at King’s College London, to recognise that the university has become the first-ever academic institution to declare that it will no longer use the forced swim test. The university’s declaration follows discussions with PETA.

In the widely discredited test, small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim to keep from drowning, purportedly to shed light on human depression. Yet the test has been heavily criticised by scientists who argue that floating is not a sign of depression or despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment. Ultimately, the test is a poor predictor of whether a drug will work to treat depression in humans.

PETA released video footage of the forced swim test earlier this year and has been in discussions with many universities, companies, and government officials regarding the test since then. Following evidence submitted by the group, Professor Lechler confirmed that King’s College London has no intention of using the test on any species going forward.

“PETA is delighted that King’s College London has chosen to do the right thing by committing to ending its use of this cruel test,” says PETA Science Policy Adviser Dr Julia Baines. “We encourage the university to carry forward this momentum into other areas of animal experimentation, and we urge other universities to follow its lead by banning the test.”

King’s College London joins top pharmaceutical companies Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Bayer, AbbVie, Roche, AstraZeneca, Sage Therapeutics, Novo Nordisk A/S, and Boehringer Ingelheim, which all banned the forced swim test after talks with PETA US. Clearly, organisations whose financial security and integrity depend on conducting worthwhile research aren’t hesitating to abandon the test. PETA will continue to call on companies, including pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly, to end their use of this and other animal tests.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – supports the use of scientifically and ethically sound testing methods that better protect humans, animals, and the environment. For more information, please visit