For Immediate Release:
November 18, 2022
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382
Norfolk, Va. – On the 94th anniversary (November 18) of their first appearance on screen, iconic Disney characters Mickey and Minnie Mouse are being reimagined, courtesy of PETA Senior Social Media Artist Tiani Hernandez, who has created a satirical new image (available here) as part of PETA’s campaign to persuade pharmaceutical companies and universities to ban the notorious forced swim test.
Reflective of the suffering of real mice and rats used in forced swim tests, the image depicts a panicked Mickey saying, “Oh gosh Minnie, this sure isn’t swell!” and a desperate Minnie calling, “Help, Mickey! I’m drowning!”
Hernandez’s illustration evokes real life, not fantasy. In the widely debunked test, experimenters induce panic in vulnerable small animals, such as mice and rats, who may be dosed with a test substance before they’re dropped into inescapable cylinders of water and made to swim, terrified that they’ll drown. They attempt to climb the steep sides of the containers and even dive underwater to look for an escape. The test is done under the erroneous assumption that it can reveal something about mental health conditions in humans. Once it’s complete, experimenters typically kill the animals, either by gassing, an overdose of an anesthetic, or breaking their necks.
“Anyone disturbed by the thought of beloved Disney animals suffering in near-drowning tests should spare a thought for the intelligent, sensitive mice and rats who suffer in these cruel experiments in real life,” says PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell. “PETA is calling on institutions around the world to drop the forced swim test and adopt modern research methods that leave animals in peace and have a far better chance of helping humans.”
Following discussions with PETA entities, 15 companies, including Bayer and Johnson & Johnson, and several universities (some of which previously performed the test for depression research) have declared that they don’t intend to use it in the future. PETA is calling on Eli Lilly and Sanofi to follow suit.