Video: PETA Disrupts State of the City Address Over University of Bristol Near-Drowning Test on Animals  

Video: PETA Disrupts State of the City Address Over University of Bristol Near-Drowning Test on Animals  

Bristol – Last night, PETA supporters stormed the stage at the University of Bristol’s Wills Memorial Building, disrupting the State of the City address at the 2023 Festival of the Future City, which included contributions from the mayor and the University of Bristol’s vice-chancellor, to expose the university’s shameful refusal to ban the cruel forced swim test. Video footage of the action is available here and here.

When conducting this shockingly cruel test, experimenters at the University of Bristol induce panic in vulnerable small animals like rats and mice by forcing them to swim in inescapable cylinders of water. Terrified of drowning, the animals 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 and cope with stress. They kill the animals when they are done with them – either by gassing, 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. “This cruel and pointless experiment should have no future in this city, and PETA is calling on the institution to move with the times and join top UK universities in dropping this test.”

Despite a student-led motion condemning the test, the University of Bristol continues to torment and kill animals. Among others, the universities of Brighton, Exeter, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, and Southampton as well as Newcastle University and King’s College London have 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 in July 2023 from the Animals in Science Committee – an independent advisory body to the Home Office on issues relating to the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986 – recommended that the human relevance of the experiment must be demonstrated when the forced swim test is intended to be used as a stressor (as at the University of Bristol). Clearly, this experiment bears no similarity to human stress. 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 Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), TikTok, or Instagram.


Lucy Watson +44 (0) 20 7837 6327; [email protected]