World Day for Animals in Laboratories Sees University of Bristol Under Fire

24 April 2024

Bristol – Today, to mark World Day for Animals in Laboratories, a PETA activist wearing a sooty laboratory coat, goggles, and gloves, posing as “Dr Killsalot” – the “Head of Animal Torture” – conducted a botched “experiment” outside a University of Bristol building. They stood before a table draped with a banner reading, “Bristol Uni: End the Mad Science. Drop the Forced Swim Test,” and containing three large water-filled cylinders with “rats” in them and smoky test tubes. This is the latest action in PETA’s campaign calling attention to the absurdity of subjecting animals to the fear of near-drowning under the erroneous assumption it can reveal something about human mental health conditions.

Footage and images are also available here.

In the widely discredited forced swim test, experimenters induce panic in vulnerable small animals like rats and mice, who may have been dosed with a test substance, by putting them into inescapable cylinders of water, where they swim for fear of drowning. They attempt to climb the steep sides of the container and even dive underwater to look for an escape. Once the test is complete, experimenters kill the animals – either by gassing, inflicting blunt-force trauma to the head, inducing anaesthetic overdose, or breaking their necks – to study their brains.

The University of Bristol continues to conduct the forced swim test even though the Home Office recently announced its intent to eliminate it in the UK in the near future. This will be the first time a specific test on rodents has been banned in the UK, and the University of Bristol is one of the last institutions in the country to continue its use.

“The University of Bristol is giving the green light to the torture of vulnerable rats and mice by allowing this mad science to continue,” says PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner. “PETA is calling on experimenters to drop this cruel, archaic test and switch to superior, human-relevant methods.”

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview.

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