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Top Aussie uni bans ‘inhumane’ test

The University of Adelaide will cease its use of the “forced swim test” after animal rights activists campaigned for the institute to stop the “cruel” and “inhumane” experiment.The “forced swim test” involves mice or rats being dropped into a glass cylinder filled with water and being made to swim for their life.The animals quickly panic…

The University of Adelaide will cease its use of the “forced swim test” after animal rights activists campaigned for the institute to stop the “cruel” and “inhumane” experiment.

The “forced swim test” involves mice or rats being dropped into a glass cylinder filled with water and being made to swim for their life.

The animals quickly panic in the water, unable to free themselves from the unescapable beaker and left frantically swimming in circles.

The test was first developed in the late 1970s and was originally named the “despair test”.

Scientists believe the test gives them some sort of insight into depression and how long it takes people to surrender to the feeling.

Footage from the tests show the animals frantically swimming, trying to climb the walls of the glass cylinder before diving to the bottom to try and find a different way out.

When they realise this isn’t an option, many of the animals defecate in the cylinder out of fear.

Eventually, they stop swimming and just float in the cylinder.

The test has been dropped by a number of scientific institutions after campaigning from animal rights organisations, including PETA.

“If you stop swimming and begin floating, is this a sign of despair? That you’ve given up on life? Surely the fear of drowning is very different from experiencing depression…perhaps it means you’re trying to conserve energy — to survive,” PETA said.

“Those using the test can’t even agree on what the test tells them about the animals they traumatise.

So, experimenters draw false conclusions about what may help humans suffering from depression.

“The forced swim test terrifies animals and it deprives humans of real help for depression.”

The University of Adelaide is the latest to drop the test from its scientific wheelhouse after discussions with PETA and Humane Research Australia.

“Forcing frantic animals to swim for their lives is cruel and tells us nothing about human depression,” neuroscientist and PETA adviser Dr Emily Trunnell said.

“The University of Adelaide joins King’s College London, Griffith University, and more than a dozen large pharmaceutical companies in permanently ending this atrocity, and PETA is now calling other Australian universities to follow suit.”

Humane Research Australia spokesperson Rachel Smith said the test’s “lack of scientific validity” meant all universities should drop it.

“Currently, it’s left to the discretion of university animal ethics committees whether forced swim test research is approved,” Ms Smith.

“Given the clear evidence of the test’s lack of scientific validity as well as the associated animal welfare issues, all universities should be following the University of Adelaide’s lead and enforcing a complete ban.”

The University of Adelaide last used the forced swim test in April 2020.

PETA also called out Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand for using the test, pushing them to cease the experiment in September last year.

“The test has been heavily criticised by scientists who argue that floating is not a sign of depression or despair, as some claim, but rather a positive indicator of learning, saving energy, and adapting to a new environment,” PETA said.

Medical and pharmaceutical companies GlaxoSmithKline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Bayer, AstraZeneca, Novo Nordisk A/S, Johnson & Johnson, AbbVie, Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim, Pfizer, and Sage Therapeutics all banned the forced swim test after hearing from PETA.

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