Photos: ‘Laboratory Beaker’ Takes Eli Lilly to Task Over Forced Swim Test

Photos: ‘Laboratory Beaker’ Takes Eli Lilly to Task Over Forced Swim Test

PETA Demands a Ban on Cruel Near-Drowning Test on Small Animals

Bracknell – Today, a PETA supporter wearing a costume depicting a beaker of water in which a mouse is struggling to stay afloat along with the words “Lilly: Not Nice to Mice” led a socially distanced protest outside Eli Lilly’s Bracknell research and development centre calling on the company to ban the cruel forced swim test. The “beaker” and other protesters pointed out that the company has terrified 3,400 mice and rats in the test since 1993 – with nothing to show for it.

In the widely discredited test, small animals are dosed with an antidepressant drug and placed in inescapable beakers filled with water. They’re made to swim to keep from drowning, and the drug’s effectiveness is supposedly measured by how long the mouse swims before stopping and floating. 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 and its use can hinder scientific progress.

“Eli Lilly needs to accept that nearly drowning terrified mice says nothing about human depression,” says PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “It must follow the lead of more than 10 other major pharmaceutical companies, including Johnson & Johnson, and ban this useless test.”

Other top pharmaceutical companies, including GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Bayer, Roche, and AstraZeneca, have banned the forced swim test after talks with PETA US.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. High-resolution images are available here. For more information, please visit


Sascha Camilli +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]