As an early valentine for University of Bristol Vice-Chancellor Hugh Brady, Mayor of the West of England Dan Norris and PETA’s rat mascot – decked out as Cupid – gave the University of Bristol a pointed message.
We gathered outside the Wills Memorial Building with signs proclaiming, “University of Bristol: Have a Heart, Drop the Forced Swim Test.”
Mayor Dan Norris Has a Heart for Animals
The University of Bristol has received messages from over 33,000 PETA supporters – including some of the university’s very own students – and now, the mayor of the west of England is stepping in to have a say:
“Forcing frantic animals to swim for fear of drowning is cruel, and studies show it is irrelevant to depression in humans. I join PETA in urging the University of Bristol to reconsider the forced swim test and stop tormenting gentle animals in this outdated experiment.”
The Heart-Breaking Forced Swim Test
In the widely discredited test, experimenters place rats, who may or may not have been dosed with a substance, into inescapable beakers of water and watch them desperately swim in search of an escape.
The test is done on the assumption that the time it takes for the animals to stop swimming and start floating can tell us something about depression and other mental health conditions in humans.
Criticism From Every Corner
The test has been heavily criticised by experts who argue that floating is not a sign of despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment.
The test is not required by regulators for the development of new antidepressants, and experts from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency have gone so far as to say that it could even hinder progress in finding effective new treatments.
Forcing terrified rats to swim to exhaustion with no possible escape teaches us nothing about the complexities of human depression.
The University Must Break Up With the Test
It takes a cold heart to torment a vulnerable rat. PETA is calling on the University of Bristol to drop these near-drowning tests in favour of the modern, animal-free research methods that are widely available and could actually help human patients.
Join us – and 33,000 members of the public – by sending the university a message now: