Video: PETA US Supporters Disrupt University of Bristol Event to Decry Near-Drowning Tests

Video: PETA US Supporters Disrupt University of Bristol Event to Decry Near-Drowning Tests

New York – PETA US supporters armed with signs reading “Ban the animal torture” confronted University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor and President Evelyn Welch during a New York City alumni event at Raines Law Room lounge to expose the institution’s shameful refusal to ban the forced swim test.

The activists filled the room chanting, “Ban the forced swim test now!” before being escorted out by security. Video footage of the disruption is available here.

The forced swim test, in which small animals such as rats are forcibly put into inescapable cylinders of water, has been widely discredited by experts. Terrified of drowning, the animals attempt to climb the sides of the container and even dive underwater looking for an escape. Experimenters believe this can somehow reveal something about human mental health conditions. Yet inducing fear and panic in animals is far removed from the complex factors affecting human mental health. Trying to understand the fundamental human biology underlying stress and anxiety by forcing rats to swim in a beaker of water is doing a disservice to those suffering with mental health disorders.

“The forced swim test is a poor model of human mental health conditions, yet the University of Bristol continues to defend it,” says PETA’s Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “PETA entities are calling on Vice-Chancellor Welch to catch up with the UK’s top universities by dropping this cruel and pointless experiment.”

As well as being irrelevant to humans, the test has been criticised on welfare grounds. Imagine what an exhausting and distressing experience this must be for the animal: spending your life trapped in a cage, then being forced into an experiment that intentionally causes you stress, only to be killed at the end of it.

Following discussions with PETA entities around the world, 15 companies and over a dozen universities, including King’s College London, Newcastle University, and the University of Liverpool, have declared that they don’t intend to use the forced swim test in the future. PETA is calling on the University of Bristol to follow suit. Already, more than 50,000 people – including actors Richard E Grant, Sir Mark Rylance, and Joanna Lumley and Mayor of West England Dan Norris – have urged the university to take action.

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, Twitter, or Instagram.


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