The Only NZ University Continuing to Use Forced Swim Test - Otago Uni

The Only NZ University Continuing to Use Forced Swim Test - Otago Uni

The University of Otago has been caught conducting the Forced Swim Test - one of the most controversial animal experiments of recent years.

In the Forced Swim Test, also known as the Porsolt test, rats or mice are placed in a beaker of water and made to swim with no possibility of escape. It’s used by some researchers to try and measure depression or depression-like behaviour.

We uncovered evidence that the University of Otago is still approving the use of this test - the most recent case was this year. The information was obtained through the Official Information Act.

Since the 1st of January 2019, the University of Otago has received two Animal Use Protocols that involved the use of the Forced Swim Test. Both were approved by their Animal Ethics Committee. The date the most recent application was fully approved was the 17th of May 2021. The University of Otago confirmed that the Forced Swim Test was carried out in at least one of the studies.

The fact that the Forced Swim Test is getting the tick of approval from the University of Otago's Animal Ethics Committee proves that there approval process is far from stringent - tests like this shouldn't be making the cut!

The University of Otago is currently the only one of eight universities in New Zealand still using the Forced Swim Test.

The scientific community in New Zealand largely acknowledges that this test isn’t a useful test for predicting human depression or despair. We have been working hard to encourage institutes to stay away from using this cruel and unreliable test, yet there is one university stuck in the dark ages and that’s the University of Otago.

By approving the use of the Forced Swim Test this year, Otago Uni is demonstrating that they do not want to make any meaningful changes to the way they treat animals. Any talk of improvement is just empty words.

If the University of Otago was truly dedicated to good science, they’d be upgrading their methodology and attempting to replace the use of animals in their research.


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