University of Adelaide Ends Forced Swim Test on Animals

For Immediate Release:

2 September 2020

After Talks With PETA and Humane Research Australia, University Pledges to Stop Allowing Cruel Near-Drowning Experiments

Adelaide – After discussions with PETA and Humane Research Australia, the University of Adelaide confirmed that it will no longer permit the use of the widely discredited forced swim test, in which rats and other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim to keep from drowning.

“Forcing frantic animals to swim for their lives is cruel and tells us nothing about human depression,” says neuroscientist and PETA adviser Dr Emily Trunnell. “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 on other Australian universities to follow suit.”

“Currently, it’s left to the discretion of university animal ethics committees whether forced swim test research is approved,” says Humane Research Australia spokesperson Rachel 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.”

Experimenters with the University of Adelaide published papers about conducting the forced swim test as recently as April 2020. 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. The test is less accurate than a coin toss in determining the effectiveness of antidepressant medications.

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.

PETA – whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on” – opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview that fosters violence towards other animals. For more information, please visit