NZAVS was recently awarded a LUSH Prize for our campaign against the use of the Forced Swim Test, but the good news doesn’t stop there!
We have put a lot of work into collaborating with and educating the industry about the invalidity of this test, and we’ve seen fantastic results from this approach.
We recently reached out to all 8 NZ Universities to check in and find out if they have used or approved the use of the Forced Swim Test recently, and the positive news is that none of them has!
The NZ Government didn’t want to ban the use of the Forced Swim Test, so its use is still permitted here. It’s now up to the many different animal ethics committees nationwide to decide if and when it can be used (which we will continue to monitor).
You can help by sending them positive encouragement and reminding them that they’re heading in the right direction!
Sign the virtual thank you card here.
The two universities we were most interested in were the University of Otago and the Victoria University of Wellington. Both universities had used the Forced Swim Test in the past.
The last time a university approved the use of the Forced Swim Test was by the University of Otago on the 24th of April 2021. This was an extension on the application from 27 April 2018 (first approved on the 13th of July 2018). But they have no active projects that involve the Forced Swim Test!
The Forced Swim Test also isn’t being used by the Victoria University of Wellington – they even rejected an application for the use of this test because they didn’t believe its use could be justified.
This signals a desire and ability to be progressive and adjust when new scientific evidence is put forward, so for that; we commend Victoria University of Wellington!
We’ve had many productive conversations with Victoria University. Here’s what they had to say about the use of the Forced Swim Test:
“As an AEC (animal ethics committee), we evaluate each application based on the current scientific data. As scientific knowledge improves, and with the continuous strides towards Replacement and Refinement in animal research, a range of alternatives will continue to be developed for the many areas in which the FST was typically used.”
The current Chair of their Animal Ethics Committee also said
“We respect the views of NZAVS, and while we don’t always agree, the debate is healthy and helps advance best practice in animal ethics.”
Let’s say thank you and encourage animal ethics committees to continue evaluating the use of the Forced Swim Test and other animal tests — sign the thank you card now!
The Forced Swim Test is an animal test that involves small animals, such as rats or mice, being made to swim in an inescapable beaker of water to measure their response to the threat of drowning. Some researchers use the test as a misguided attempt to mimic depression or hopelessness in humans. The Forced Swim Test has been widely scrutinised for its lack of validity. Read more about this test here.