Video: PETA Activists Disrupt University of Bristol Event Over Near-Drowning Test on Animals

Video: PETA Activists Disrupt University of Bristol Event Over Near-Drowning Test on Animals

Bristol – Last night, PETA supporters joined by activists from Animal Rising invaded the stage at the Wills Memorial Building, disrupting a panel discussion about the future of universities that included the University of Bristol’s deputy vice chancellor and other officials, to expose the university’s shameful refusal to ban the cruel forced swim test. Video footage of the disruption is available here and here.

In the widely discredited test, experimenters at Bristol induce panic in vulnerable small animals like rats and mice by forcing them to swim in inescapable cylinders of water. Terrified of drowning, they attempt to climb the sides of the container and even dive underwater looking for a way out. Experimenters believe this can somehow reveal something about the way humans experience stress. They kill the animals when they are done with them – either by gassing them, inflicting blunt-force trauma to the head, inducing anaesthetic overdose, or breaking their necks – and then study their brains.

“In an absurd attempt to understand human mental health, the University of Bristol forces tiny animals to experience the fear of drowning,” says PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “The public deserves to know that university leaders are defending a cruel and pointless experiment, and PETA is calling on the institution to join the rest of the UK’s top universities in dropping this test.”

Among others, the universities of Brighton, Exeter, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, and Southampton as well as Newcastle University and King’s College London indicated they neither use the near-drowning test nor intend to do so in the future.

The Home Office is currently reviewing its policy on the forced swim test. Advice made public this month from the Animals in Science Committee – an independent advisory body to the Home Office on issues relating to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – suggests that use of the forced swim test as a stressor (which is how the University of Bristol is using it) must demonstrate human-relevance, but the committee also found that licences had been granted without proper scrutiny, and as such, PETA is calling for them to be revoked.

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 Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.


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