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Bristol student protests against Forced Swim Test with a 'floating banner'

Following the recent demonstrations against Forced Swim Test, a first-year undergraduate called to end the use of the experiment with a ‘floating banner’.

By William BuddFirst YearHistory

A University of Bristol undergraduate demonstrated against the use of Forced Swim Test by university researchers on the grounds ‘of animal cruelty.’

A first-year philosophy undergraduate has expressed her desire to see the Forced Swim Test halted immediately in a demonstration inside the social space of Senate House.

The student activist released a banner attached to balloons inside the busy on-campus work and social space that read ‘Bristol Uni: Let the Forced Swim Test Go’.

The People for the Ethical Treatment of Animal (PETA) campaigners said that the test has been ‘widely discredited’, with the Home Office announcing its intentions to end its use in the UK. They further added that the University of Bristol remains ‘one of the last institutions in the UK to conduct the test for research purposes.’

The Forced Swim Test involves submerging small animals such as rats and mice in cylinders of water, inducing significant levels of panic in the animal as they attempt to escape the cylinder by climbing the walls or diving underwater to search for another escape route. The rodents will first try to escape before settling down, and floating or swimming steadily. The test is used by researchers at the University of Bristol to understand the neurobiology of stress.

 The first-year undergraduate who released the banner, said: ‘Our university has spent more than a decade torturing small animals in this cruel test under the misguided claim it tells us something about human mental health’.

She further said: ‘This experiment is cruel and pointless; it does not have the support of the student body or the scientific community.’

Demonstration outside Beacon House featuring ‘Dr Killsalot’ against Forced Swim Test/ PETA UK

 This latest protest against Forced Swim Test comes following the demonstration outside Beacon House on April 14 featuring ‘Dr Killsalot’ and the disruption caused by PETA activists at an alumni event in New York City led by Professor Evelyn Welch, Vice Chancellor of the University of Bristol On May 14.

A University of Bristol spokesperson said: ‘We recognise there are differing views about the use of animals in research, including some concerns around whether it is ethical.

‘The University of Bristol has a successful track record of translating scientific discoveries into real-world advances. Wherever possible we rely on non-animal methods for example computer models, cells grown in the laboratory or human volunteers. When these methods are not suitable to address the scientific gaps, and therefore only when absolutely necessary, we use animals in research to improve our understanding of health and disease in both humans and animals. This includes cardiovascular and cancer research, diseases associated with infection and immunity and, in the case of forced swimming, advances in the understanding of stress-related disorders.

‘We are committed to a culture of openness and transparency regarding the research carried out here at Bristol, ensuring the animals are treated with compassion and respect. We keep up to date with the latest thinking on all aspects of research using animals (including advances in welfare) and have robust and thorough ethical review processes in place for every project.’

Featured image: PETA UK

Do you think the university should stop its use of the Forced Swim Test?