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Tamatha Paul adds her voice to anti-animal testing campaign

A students’ association president and recently elected Wellington City Councillor has added her voice to the campaign against cruel animal experiments.

Recently elected City Councillor Tamatha Paul, writing in her capacity as the President of the Victoria University of Wellington Students Association (VUWSA), has penned a letter to the Victoria University of Wellington Animal Ethics Committee calling for them to end the use of the Forced Swim Test. In her letter, she describes how the use of the test reflects poorly on the institute and is contrary to the University’s progressive values.

The Forced Swim Test involves forcing small animals such as rats or mice to swim in an inescapable beaker of water until they ‘give up’ and float. The test reportedly attempts to mimic depression or hopelessness in humans. Students say the University should end this test on ethical and scientific grounds.

"I think it’s time that Victoria University makes the progressive change to commit to never conducting or funding this test again. On behalf of the student body, I’m calling on the Victoria University Animal Ethics Committee to make this commitment by the end of the month to give students some positive news to end the year on," says Ms. Paul.

New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) Executive Director Tara Jackson says animal cruelty is a bad look for the University.

"The VUWSA President has voiced her concern that the use of the Forced Swim Test is an embarrassment for Vic Uni," says Ms. Jackson.

"Not only is the Forced Swim Test cruel, but it fails to model human depression. This test is less predictive than chance at determining if a compound would have efficacy in humans. Victoria University is wasting valuable resources, including time and money, each time they approve this test."

Following strong condemnation from the public and student groups, NZAVS and SAFE last month handed over their 25,000 strong petition to Parliament demanding a total ban of the Forced Swim Test.

SAFE spokesperson Nellie Lyon says "The University would be wise to listen to its student body. The Forced Swim Test is scientifically flawed and a risk to the institute's reputation. It’s time for Vic Uni to ensure this cruel outdated test is never allowed to be conducted on campus grounds again."

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