After finding out that Victoria University of Wellington has recently used the Forced Swim Test, we leapt straight into action urging them to immediately end the use of this cruel and irrelevant animal test.
The Victoria University Animal Ethics Committee is the group of people responsible for approving the use of tests like this. If a cruel animal experiment tasks place in New Zealand, it's because one of these committees has given it the tick of approval.
They have formally responded to NZAVS and SAFE, telling us that they are not committing to no longer using the Forced Swim Test. That instead, they will leave it up to individuals applying to subject animals to this test, to justify it. This isn't good enough.
If the Victoria University of Wellington Animal Ethics Committee properly considered the validity of this test then approval would not be given.
It is disappointing that the university isn't embracing the opportunity to end the use of a cruel and invalid test especially at a time where pharmaceutical giants are making this exact commitment and receiving a lot of positive attention.
We need to continue encouraging Victoria University to make this commitment and join the global shift away from this cruel and irrelevant test.
Let's put more pressure on and highlight their poor decision!
Head over to the Victoria University Facebook page and leave a comment under their latest post, asking them politely to reconsider their decision and commit to no longer using this test!
I.e. This is what we commented:
I'm disappointed to hear that the Victoria University of Wellington's Animal Ethics Committee has decided not to end the use of the cruel and invalid Forced Swim Test.
This animal test involves placing mice and rats in inescapable beakers of water where they can't touch the bottom or hold on to the sides to keep afloat. Instead, they swim for as long as they can and then give up and float to conserve energy. This does not mimic human depression, and you'd be better off flipping a coin to find results than using this test.
Please join the global shift away from this test and commit to no longer conducting the Forced Swim Test at Victoria University!
Go a step further and post a tweet on Twitter, urging them to end the use of this cruel and invalid test.
More info on Animal Ethics Committees
A commonly used (attempted) justification for the use of tests like the Forced Swim test is that Animal Ethics Committees are fully equipped to approve the use of animals in science.
According to the Ministry for Primary Industries, Animal ethics committees must have at least 4 members, 3 of whom must be external members:
- a nominee of an approved animal welfare organisation (the only approved organisation is the SPCA)
- a nominee of the New Zealand Veterinary Association
- a lay person to represent the public interest
There are some big issues with Animal Ethics Committees in NZ.
Normally institutes using animals will try and highlight the fact that someone from the Vet Association and someone from the SPCA is in their Animal Ethics Committee. What they fail to mention is that people who have conducted cruel animal experiments can also be in this committee. We also know of SPCA reps who have only lasted a short period of time on an animal ethics committee because of the emotional trauma it caused.
What is important to highlight is that these committees are NOT made up of experts on non-animal based research, testing or teaching methods yet they are responsible for deciding if no suitable replacement exists.
Long story short, do not have blind faith that these committees are well enough equipped to be deciding whether or not cruel animal experiments should go ahead. Members can include a random person with no interest in science or animals and animal experimenters.