Just as the balloons were ready for lift-off today at the Bristol International Balloon Fiesta, our massive “rat” had an important message: “The Forced Swim Test Is Full of Hot Air”.
We attended the fiesta to demand that the University of Bristol ban the controversial test, in which small animals are forced to tread water.
What’s the Forced Swim Test?
In the widely discredited test, experimenters force rats, who may or may not have been dosed with a substance, into inescapable beakers of water.
Terrified, they swim in search of an escape, and experimenters record how long it takes before they stop swimming and float on the surface.
Experimenters absurdly claim that this test tells us about human mental health conditions, such as those caused by stress – but the science does not hold water and distressing animals does not help humans.
No Science, Just Hot Air
Quite simply, 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.
Stress-related mental health conditions, such as depression, are some of the most common and debilitating conditions in the world, making it vital that scientific research achieve translatable results that are relevant for human clinical practice.
Institutions could stop using the test right away with no detriment to mental health research. There are plenty of human-relevant approaches that do not involve stressing animals. Researchers are already using three-dimensional models of the brain grown from human stem cells to gain insights into human mental health conditions.
Give Rats a Reason for a Fiesta, Bristol
As opposition to this cruel and archaic test continues to balloon, we’re calling on the University of Bristol to adopt modern research methods that leave animals in peace. Join us!