New TV Ad Slams Multimillion-Dollar Tax-Funded Psychological Tests on Animals

PETA Rallies Viewers to Help End Taxpayer Funding of Foot Shock, Near-Drowning, and Tail Suspension Torture Tests on Animals at NIMH

For Immediate Release:
February 4, 2020

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Washington – Starting today, PETA is running a disturbing new TV ad showing mice being electrically shocked, suspended upside down, forced to swim for their lives, and attacked by larger mice in multimillion-dollar taxpayer-funded depression tests at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The ad—which will air today during WJLA’s ABC 7 News at 12 noon and 6 p.m. and on Thursday, February 6, during WJLA’s Good Morning Washington at 5 a.m. and ABC 7 News at 6 p.m.—urges viewers to text MOUSE to 73822* to tell NIMH to stop tormenting vulnerable animals and wasting limited funds and to switch to superior, non-animal research models. PETA neuroscientist Dr. Emily Trunnell will also speak directly to top officials at the National Advisory Mental Health Council meeting today at NIMH’s office in Rockville, Maryland, to emphasize PETA’s request.

In the widely discredited forced swim (or “despair”) test, small animals are placed in beakers filled with water and swim frantically to keep from drowning. A Department of Veterans Affairs facility described the experiment as “psychologically painful,” and scientists have criticized its poor applicability to human depression. In the tail suspension test, mice are hung upside down by their tails, which are taped to a bar. In the foot shock test, mice or rats are locked inside a chamber with an electrified grid floor and repeatedly shocked.

“Nearly drowning mice, electrically shocking them, and hanging them by their tails tells us nothing about human depression,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA’s ad increases the pressure on the National Institute of Mental Health to stop flushing taxpayers’ money down the toilet for these cruel and worthless tests on animals that fail to help humans.”

In response to PETA’s pressure to ban these archaic psychological tests on animals, NIMH Director Joshua Gordon told the scientific journal Nature, “[NIMH] has for some time been discouraging the use of certain behavioral assays, including the forced swim and tail suspension test, as models of depression.” He has also said that these tests are “terrible,” “lack specificity,” have “wasted time and [money],” and have “failed to reveal translatable neural mechanisms”—and two NIMH program chiefs have written that these experiments are “rarely predictive of human outcomes.” Yet Gordon has not banned the tests.

Thousands of PETA supporters, along with U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania, are pressing the agency to address the nation’s mental health crisis by using modern, human-relevant, non-animal research methods.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit or click here.

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind