New TV Ad Slams Taxpayer-Funded Animal Tests for Tackling Nation’s Mental Health Crisis

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

For Immediate Release:
December 12, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382


This week, PETA is running a disturbing new TV ad showing mice and rats being electrically shocked, suspended upside down, forced to swim for their lives, and tormented in crude taxpayer-funded depression tests at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

The ad—which will air during WJLA’s ABC 7 News at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, December 11, and Thursday, December 12—urges viewers to text MOUSE to 73822* to tell NIMH to stop tormenting vulnerable animals and to switch to superior, non-animal research models.

In the widely discredited forced swim (or “despair”) test, mice, rats, or other small animals are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and must swim frantically to keep from drowning—an experiment that a Department of Veterans Affairs facility said is “psychologically painful” and that’s classified as “Category E,” which is the most extreme experimentation type and includes tests in which animals endure pain or distress without receiving any pain relief. 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 that has an electrified grid floor and repeatedly shocked.

“Nearly drowning mice and electrically shocking them would be considered criminal if it were done outside a laboratory, but no experiment—no matter how painful—is prohibited by law,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “Our ad reveals the secretive laboratory torture tests that people are paying for with their tax dollars—and how they can demand that the National Institute of Mental Health stop these cruel and worthless depression experiments on animals.”

In response to PETA’s pressure on NIMH Director Joshua Gordon to drop archaic and twisted psychological tests on animals, he 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 Rep. Brendan Boyle, are pressing the agency to address the nation’s mental health crisis by using superior, human-relevant, non-animal research methods.

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*Terms for automated texts/calls from PETA: Text STOP to end, HELP for more info. Msg/data rates may apply. U.S. only.

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