Animal welfare demonstrators gathered outside the new Bracknell base of an American drugs company this morning in protest of controversial experiment methods.

Members of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) group came together outside Arlington Square, off Downshire Way, where pharma company Eli Lilly will set up a new research centre.

Bracknell News:

They were rallying against the use of ‘forced swim tests’, an experiment which traps mice, rats and other small creatures in beakers of water until they can no longer swim in order to test anti-depressant drugs.

Eli Lilly says it no longer uses this method, however.

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Asked why more than a dozen demonstrators had gathered outside Arlington Square this morning, PETA campaigns coordinator Theodora Iona said: “We are here in Bracknell today to ask Eli Lilly to ban the cruel and worthless force swim test that hinders scientific progress.

Bracknell News:

“The forced swim test is extremely cruel. Experiments place mice, rats, and other small animals in inescapable water tanks.

“The animals desperately paddle around trying to keep their head above the water but eventually they give up and start floating.

Bracknell News:

“They note how long it takes for the animals to start floating and absurdly claim that this tells us anything about the mental state of a human being who suffers from depression or any other mental illness.”

PETA alleges Eli Lilly has tested on more than 3,400 mice and rats since 1993 ‘without results’.

Bracknell News:

Theodora continued: “It is scientifically worthless, this test, and we are asking Eli Lilly to take a stand now and ban it.

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“Eli Lilly has moved to Arlington Square which is why we are here in Bracknell today, to ask them to make it a policy to ban the forced swim test. All its competitors, like Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson have policies against the forced swim test and yet Eli Lilly refuses to do so.”

Bracknell News:

As the News reported back in April, the firm’s move to Bracknell was initially heralded as a sign the town was “open for business.”

But the protestors gathered outside Arlington Square are eager to get residents on board with their call to ban the forced swim test.

One demonstrator, Elaine Evans, was wearing a costume depicting a beaker of water in which a mouse is struggling to stay afloat.

Bracknell News:

She told the News about her costume, saying: “This is just to represent what the poor animals, the mice and the rats have to go through.

“These animals swim until they can swim no longer, then they float and then they die.

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“If it were puppies and kittens used to do this there would be a public outcry, there would be a lot more people here.

“But because it’s just mice and rats, it’s just speciesism. It’s a really good example of speciesism.

“It’s just wrong.”

Bracknell News:

The News asked Eli Lilly to comment on PETA’s claims.

In response, a spokesperson said: “Lilly is not actively using this protocol, and we haven’t for some time.

“Here’s more information about animal care and use at Lilly:”