Ask This New Zealand University to Ban Cruel Forced Swim Tests on Animals

  • by: PETA
  • recipient: Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand Administration
Victoria University of Wellington in New Zealand still allows experimenters to dose mice and rats with drugs and drop them into cylinders of water to watch how long they struggle.

This experiment, known as "the despair test" or "the forced swim test", is supposed to provide insights into human depression, but scientists themselves are divided about the correct interpretation of the results.

At first, animals panic and try to escape by attempting to climb up the sides of the beakers or even diving underwater in search of an exit. They paddle furiously, desperately trying to keep their heads above water, until eventually, they start to float. Some experimenters claim that animals who spend more time floating are depressed, but experts reason that floating is more likely to be an indication that animals are learning, conserving energy, and adapting to a new environment.

Forcing frantic animals to swim in an inescapable cylinder of water is both physically and psychologically abusive – not to mention completely irrelevant to human depression. In fact, an analysis of data from four major pharmaceutical companies shows that the forced swim test is less predictive than a coin toss at determining whether a compound would have antidepressant efficacy in humans.

Allowing such tests to continue at Victoria University of Wellington teaches students nothing more than cruelty to animals. Scientists all over the world – including at top pharmaceutical companies AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, and Roche – are no longer wasting time and money on this test, which has proved to be as irrelevant as it is cruel.

Urge the Victoria University of Wellington to ban this archaic experiment. 
Dear Administrators,

I was shocked to hear that Victoria University of Wellington hasn't yet banned the forced swim test, despite the abundance of evidence showing that this experiment is cruel to animals as well as scientifically useless.

The test involves placing animals in an inescapable cylinder of water and forcing them to swim. The animals try to escape by attempting to climb up the steep sides of the beaker and diving underwater to look for an escape route. They paddle furiously, until they eventually float. Data reveals that the test is unreliable and unscientific. Experimenters can't even agree on what the test tells them about the animals they torment.

Victoria University of Wellington students deserve to be given the opportunity to do meaningful research. If you continue to conduct these tests, your scientific standards will fall out of pace with the rest of the world, where an increasing number of laboratories are turning away from animal testing. Even major pharmaceutical companies such as AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson, and Roche have committed to no longer wasting time or money on the forced swim test, which not only is physically and psychologically abusive to animals but also is something that simply doesn't work.

[Your comments]

Please make the compassionate decision to ban the forced swim test at your university.

[Your name]
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