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University is forcing animals to swim for their lives

24 April 2019 | MEDIA RELEASE

Victoria University is forcing animals to swim for their lives in invalid laboratory experiments

Today on World Day for Laboratory Animals, a letter for Professor Grant Guilford, Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University, was delivered to the Psychology Department by SAFE and the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS), accompanied by Felix and Veritas - two rats who were rescued from experiments at Victoria University - calling for an end to the use of the Forced Swim Test.

The Forced Swim Test involves putting a small animal such as a mouse or a rat in an inescapable beaker of water, where they are made to swim until they give up. This test is known to be currently used at Victoria University and Otago University.

SAFE has today joined with the NZAVS in the campaign calling for an end to the Forced Swim Test and a review of all animal experiments for psychological research.

NZAVS Executive Director Tara Jackson says the cruel test has no relevance to humans.

“The Forced Swim Test is used as a misguided attempt to mimic depression or hopelessness in humans. Major universities are inflicting this invalid and potentially terrifying experience on vulnerable animals who swim frantically, trying to find an escape,” says Ms Jackson.

The Forced Swim Test has been discredited1 as a measure of the effectiveness of anti-depressant medications, so is a waste of precious funds, as well as being cruel to the animals involved.

“The Forced Swim Test attempts to model human depression, on the assumption that a depressed animal will give up trying to escape sooner that one who is not depressed. In reality, all it tests is an animal’s ability to learn that they will not drown, so they stop swimming to save their energy.”

“If companion animals were subjected to such treatment, the perpetrator would be charged with animal cruelty, which is exactly what the Forced Swim Test is,” says SAFE Chief Executive Officer Debra Ashton.

“The Government needs to show compassion to animals, taking urgent action to ban the Forced Swim Test and commission a full review of all animal testing for psychological research. Caring Kiwis can help end the cruelty by signing our petition to Parliament,” adds Ms Ashton.


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