The New Zealand Anti-Vivisection Society has found evidence the forced swim test has been used recently by researchers at Victoria and Otago Universities.
The society’s executive director Tara Jackson said the test method had no relevance to human depression and should be banned.
The test involved mice or rats being dropped into a vessel of water they could not escape from and being forced to swim until they were close to drowning – Ms Jackson said.
It was used to model human depression – based on the assumption that a depressed animal would give up trying to escape sooner than one that was not depressed she said.
‘Cruel and horrific experiments happen in New Zealand and we’ve known about them for years but we didn’t actually know that the forced swim test was happening here’ Ms Jackson said.
‘Researches are torturing animals with the aim of learning more about human behaviour – but the reality is it’s a waste of time and innocent animals are paying for it’.