Friday 17 June 2022 | 5

Forced swimming: footage

Forced swimming: footage

Mis à jour le 27 September 2023

We talked about it in our previous post : the Ministry of Research has just approved a project that involves inflicting electric shocks and forced swimming on rodents. It is difficult to imagine the fear felt by these animals as they float in a bowl where they do not know if they can ever get out. The footage of their attempts to escape speaks volumes, however.

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In 2015, the University of Alaska Fairbanks put videos online of lessons to teach students to correctly decipher the behaviours of rodents subjected to forced swimming tests. The professor described, in a completely detached way (or with an occasional smile), the mice’s attempts to get out of the container or to stay alive by floating.

Forced to swim and held up by their tails

In the second video, the mouse appears terrorised from the beginning, floating and defecating before starting to move, which the professor finds very interesting. He does not reveal that defecation is a long-known stress marker among mice – and does not do it more in the fourth video, faced with a mouse that alternates between floating and desperate attempts to escape from the container.

At the end of the last two videos, we see the professor’s hand retrieve the mice in the container by grabbing them by the tail – again, a practice known to generate stress for mice as well as rats.

The footage cannot show, and we cannot imagine, the terror felt by these mice when they are immersed in this container with no possibility of getting out. How can you not show minimal empathy watching four mice adopting four different strategies, four different reactions faced with this situation? These are in fact four individuals who very much want to get out of this container without knowing that they are entirely subject to the good will of the researcher.

This is happening in France

These practices do not disappear at the French border. Don't forget about our previous blog, which talked about the authorisation of a new project of this kind this year by the Ministry of Research.

Between 2019 and 2022, we have found many publications from French teams having controlled the effects of molecules or genetic modifications specifically by using the forced swimming test*. Three cases deserve particular attention:

  • instead of one six-minute session, the Universities of Toulouse and Lyon 1 subjected the mice to a forced swim of ten minutes a day for five days in a row, with the idea of making it a better model for testing a medication;
  • elsewhere, the NutriNeuro team (INRAE/ Bordeaux University) worked with Activ’Inside (a company from the Bordeaux region that produces ingredients for sellers of ‘natural’ dietary supplements) for testing the effect of one of their ingredients (saffron) on depressive behaviours — showing that ‘natural’ health cannot mean that cruelty is not involved.
  • in a video article published at the end of 2021 and nicely entitled ‘The chronic despair model’, Strasbourg and Fribourg Universities showed procedures carried out over the last few years — the first two minutes of the video, available for free, show a part of what the rodents are subjected to in this context.

Help us to put a stop to these tests

Rodents are incredible animals, they laugh, they play, they feel emotions as complex as regret and have an interest in their own lives. It is unacceptable that these tests carry on nowadays. We have no right to make these animals suffer for our own interests.

So that we can fight for the abolition of animal testing, we need to take care of our health. Everyone is likely to need medication at some point. Now, all branded drugs involve research using animals to develop them and require testing on animals to put them on the market. While waiting for a ban on animal testing, we therefore recommend, where possible, buying generic drugs, that can be put on the market without involving animal testing – which at least makes it a symbolic choice.

Over the next few weeks, we will tell you more about the international campaigns against the use of forced swimming and the alternatives worth considering to help people suffering with depression.

Join us in asking the Ministry of Research to forbid these tests.

Copy this posts on Twitter: Stop electric shocks and forced swimming for animals! Public authorities should not authorise such cruel experiments! @sup_recherche #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

Copy this posts on Twitter: .@sup_recherche, France must commit, like laboratories abroad, to put an end to cruel forced swimming tests on mice and rats! #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

Copy this posts on Twitter: Making rats depressed with electric shocks will not give more effective treatments! #EndAnimalTesting, @sup_recherche ! #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

Copy this posts on Twitter: Instead of torturing rats to produce yet more medications, train psychologists and psychiatrists with 21st century tools! @sup_recherche #StopNageForcée #StopForcedSwimming #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale

Copy this posts on Twitter: Stop electric shocks and forced swimming! More funding for in vitro methods! @sup_recherche #StopNageForcée #EndAnimalTesting @onevoiceanimal #ExpérimentationAnimale #StopForcedSwimming

This article is the second in a series of five on forced swimming:

  1. Electric shocks and forced swimming in France in 2022
  2. Forced swimming: the images
  3. Forced swimming: the companies that advance and the industry that resists
  4. Forced swimming: other approaches are possible
  5. Forced swimming: a long-term battle (to come)

* The recent publications are signed by teams from Neurolixis & Pierre Fabre, from the Institute of Psychiatry and Neuroscience of Paris (Inserm U12266), from the Paris-Saclay University, from a coalition between the university hospital and universities supported by the French National Research Agency, from the Charles Gerhardt Institute and from Montpellier University, from the Neurocentre Magendie at Bordeaux University, from the Institute of Biology Paris-Seine, from the Côte d’Azur University, and many others.

Translated from the French by Joely Justice

Nicolas Marty
Hr blog

In the subject

The 2022 figures on animal testing have finally come out... and are not reassuring In 2024, mice and rats continue to be subjected to the worst experiments in French laboratories

Comments 5

I accept that publication of my comments is subject to the code of conduct.

lo | Thursday 13 July 2023

Tout cela est ignoble ! Je ne vois vraiment pas en quoi torturer un rat en le plongeant dans l'eau pendant de longues minutes va nous aider nous les dépressifs à trouver un nouveau médicament. C'est véritablement écoeurant et purement financier. L'homme est la pire race de la Terre.

bruno | Friday 07 April 2023

C'est atroce !

Merci pour le partage Nicolas.

Je vais rédiger un article en mentionnant cette page sur mon petit site pour dénoncer se genre de pratique!

lo | Tuesday 15 November 2022

La France, notre beau pays, mais tellement sali.
J'ai envoyé un courrier parfaitement écrit à Madame la Ministre. Si pas de réponse, je la relance, encore et encore. Il faut que cesse ces tortures sur les rats !

Isaline | Thursday 23 June 2022

Que dire ? je suis atterrée par tant d'horreurs, ces pauvres animaux qui
luttent pour vivre c'est poignant de tristesse. Comment peut-on dormir la nuit en ayant fait de telles choses dans la journée?