News Blog Articles Rescued rats Felix and Veritas ask Victoria University to end the cruel ‘forced swim test’

Rescued rats Felix and Veritas ask Victoria University to end the cruel ‘forced swim test’

May 12th, 2019

On World Day for Laboratory Animals, observed on 24 April, two brave rescue rats named Felix and Veritas returned to Victoria University of Wellington to deliver an important message. 

At Victoria University, rats are subjected to an experiment known as the ‘Forced Swim Test’. The test involves placing a small animal such as a rat or mouse into an inescapable beaker of water, where they are forced to swim until they ‘give up’. 

On 24 April, Felix and Veritas delivered a letter to the Vice-Chancellor of Victoria University, Professor Grant Guilford, asking for an end to the use of the Forced Swim Test. The letter was handed over by SAFE and the New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society (NZAVS) on behalf of the two rats, who’d previously been rescued from experimentation in the labs at the University. 

NZAVS first learned in January 2019 that researchers at Victoria University and the University of Otago conducted Forced Swim Tests.  

Since then, the campaign to end this cruel test has been gaining momentum, and now SAFE has joined forces with NZAVS to call for an end to the test nationwide, as well as a review of all animal experiments for psychological research in New Zealand. 

NZAVS Executive Director Tara Jackson says this 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 discredited[1] as a measure of the effectiveness of antidepressant medications. This test hinders the development of helpful treatments for humans, as well as being cruel to the animals involved. 
“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. 

Felix and Veritas returned to the University as a symbol of hope for all the rats and other animals who have been used by Victoria University in the Forced Swim Test. These animals deserve to live free from cruelty, and that means urgently stopping the use of this test.” 

(1) Commons, K.; Cholanians, A.; Babb, J. & Ehlinger, D. (2017). The Rodent Forced Swim Test Measures Stress-Coping Strategy, Not Depression-like Behavior. ACS Chemical Neuroscience 8(5) 955-960. 

 Take Action: 


Try plant-based!

Take the Dairy-Free Challenge

Moving away from dairy is a choice that benefits animals, our planet and our health. There’s never been a better time to go dairy-free. Whether you’re looking for tips on the best plant-based cheese or ice cream or on the lookout for new dairy-free recipe ideas, we’ve got you covered!

Donate today

Help us continue helping animals in need

As a charity, SAFE is reliant on the support of caring people like you to carry out our valuable work. Every gift goes towards providing education, undertaking research and campaigning for the benefit of all animals. SAFE is a registered charity in New Zealand (CC 40428). Contributions of $5 or more are tax-deductible.