‘Rat’ in Tank Protests University of Bristol Forced Swim Tests

‘Rat’ in Tank Protests University of Bristol Forced Swim Tests

Bristol – Today, a PETA “rat” flailed in a tank filled with over 2000 litres of water in Bristol’s Queen Square to urge the University of Bristol to ban the widely discredited forced swim test. The action is part of PETA’s campaign to urge the university to reject this cruel experiment and embrace superior, non-animal research.

In the forced swim test, rats and other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers of water and swim to keep from drowning. At some point, they stop swimming and start floating. Experimenters time how long it takes for the animal to start floating, on the absurd assumption that this can tell us something about the psychological states of humans. 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.

“Nearly drowning rats teaches us nothing about human depression,” says PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “PETA is calling on the University of Bristol to ban the forced swim test in favour of advanced, animal-free research methods that might actually help human patients.”

Following discussions with PETA and its international affiliates, 15 companies and two universities, including King’s College London, have declared that they don’t intend to use the forced swim test, which some have previously used for depression research, in the future. Last week, British icon Joanna Lumley joined PETA’s campaign, firing off a letter to the university’s vice chancellor urging him to end these “ghastly” tests.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. Images from the action are available here. For more information, please visit PETA.org.uk or follow the group on FacebookTwitter, or Instagram.