Imagine being thrown into deep water. You look for every possible escape route. But in the end, you become too exhausted and just float. Hundreds of thousands of mice, rats, guinea pigs, hamsters, and gerbils have been subjected to this terrifying scenario in the so-called “forced swim test,” which was originally called the “behavioral despair test.” Experimenters have callously watched as the small animals have struggled to keep their heads above water and as some have even drowned. But now, the animals have a champion in their corner.
Known for her work on popular TV shows such as The Punisher and Supergirl, actor Floriana Lima is using her real-life powers to be a superhero for animals. In a new PETA public service announcement, she gives us a glimpse at the cruelty of these pointless tests. “By subjecting animals to the horror of near-drowning, the forced swim test terrifies animals and it deprives humans of real help for depression,” she says in the video. Take a look:
Popularized back in the 1970s, the forced swim test was supposedly designed to gauge the antidepressant qualities of drugs. But the test assumes that when animals stop swimming and begin floating that they have given up and are depressed. More recently, this interpretation has been heavily criticized by scientists, who point out that floating could indicate that an animal is just trying to conserve energy. What is unquestionably true is that the test has failed to produce any new, approved antidepressant treatments for humans—so why are some of the country’s largest pharmaceutical companies still conducting this inhumane and worthless test?
After meeting with PETA, AbbVie became the first pharmaceutical company to take a humane and public stand against the near-drowning of animals and pledged not to conduct or fund the forced swim test. Now, it’s time for Eli Lilly to follow AbbVie’s lead and ditch this cruel and ineffective experiment.