Metro Mayor Dan Norris has joined calls for the University of Bristol to drop a controversial form of animal testing called the “Forced Swim Test”
In the experimenters place rats, who may or may not have been dosed The Metro Mayor, who is a long standing campaigner against animal cruelty, met Arabella Atkinson from PETA alongside the charity’s rat mascot who will be decked out in Cupid wings and carrying a bow and arrow – brandishing a sign proclaiming, “University of Bristol: Have a Heart, Drop the Forced Swim Test.”
Researchers measure how long it takes for the animals to stop swimming to tell them something about depression and other mental health conditions in humans. But the test has been heavily criticised by some experts who argue that floating is not a sign of despair, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment.
As a result of new research King’s College, London, as well as many major pharmaceutical companies including GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson, have now stopped subjecting animals to the forced swim test.
Bristol university has less than a year left on its licence permitting it to conduct the forced swim test, so now is a key time for them to make a decision on whether to continue to experiment in that way.
Dan Norris said “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PETA in urging the University of Bristol to reconsider the forced swim test and stop tormenting gentle animals in this outdated experiment.”
PETA Senior Campaigns Manager Kate Werner said “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 modern, animal-free research methods that might actually help human patients.”