‘Terror Tests’ on Mice Land Journal, Experimenters in Hot Water

To Show That Mice Have Personalities, Experimenters Subjected Them to Near-Drowning and ‘Social Defeat’ Tests and Killed Them

For Immediate Release:
December 2, 2019

Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Norfolk, Va.

PETA has sent a letter calling on Nature Neuroscience to investigate and potentially retract a paper from experimenters at the Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry and the Weizmann Institute of Science who conducted cruel and deadly tests on mice to “prove” that mice have personalities.

PETA is also calling on the bodies that funded these experiments not to fund similar ones in the future, noting that the experiments—which included the widely discredited forced swim (or “despair”) test, in which mice are placed in inescapable beakers filled with water and made to swim to keep from drowning—didn’t produce any worthwhile results. Because they didn’t advance scientific knowledge in any way—but did cause the suffering and death of dozens of mice—harm-benefit analyses should have prompted funders and Nature Neuroscience to reject them.

“These experimenters tormented and killed 168 mice to demonstrate what PETA has said for years—that mice have individual personalities, value their freedom and their lives, and deserve to be left alone,” says PETA Senior Vice President Kathy Guillermo. “If Nature Neuroscience and these funding institutions act on the clear ethical imperative implied by this cruel study’s findings, they’ll pull the plug on all experiments on mice.”

During the forced swim test, animals paddle furiously, desperately trying to keep their heads above water. Eventually, most start to float. The paper’s authors claim that the forced swim test measures “behavioral despair”—but evidence suggests that floating is likely a learned and adaptive behavior that saves energy and is beneficial for survival.

Other tests in the report include the “resident-intruder” (or “social defeat”) test, in which a vulnerable mouse is forced into a cage with a larger, more aggressive “resident” mouse, who will often violently attack the less aggressive “intruder.” Altogether, 168 mice were experimented on, killed, and cut apart.

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

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