Guinea Pigs Forced to Swim in Cruel Experiment at Otago Uni

Guinea Pigs Forced to Swim in Cruel Experiment at Otago Uni

Today is Day 5 of Our Biggest Exposé Yet

It's the 5th day of our 12 Days of Christmas University of Otago exposé! 

Today we are exposing an experiment on guinea pigs, where they were forced to swim in a black pool of water and later sedated and killed by having their necks broken.

This is not how animals deserve to be treated, they should be able to live a life free from cruelty — a life where they are safe and able to spend their days cuddling with their friends...

The experiment:


  • 18 Male, albino Dunkin–Hartley guinea pigs were sourced from the University's animal breeding facility and housed in cages of three.
  • They were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: medication with simvastatin, medication with atorvastatin, control treatment with just water.
  • The guinea pigs were medicated via slow gavage (force-feeding), weighed daily and after 6 weeks of treatment were tested in the Morris water maze test.
  • The maze consists of a black circular pool with a diameter of 165cm and a height of 70cm. Near the centre of the pool, a black platform was submerged. 
  • Testing consisted of multiple different trials. In each trial, the guinea pig was placed in the pool facing a wall and allowed to search for the platform for 45s. If successful, they were allowed to stay for 15s, before the next trial started from a different part of the pool. If he did not find the platform in time, he was manually put on there for 15s before starting the next trial. This was repeated over 5 consecutive days.
  • On the 6th day, the platform was removed, and the guinea pig was left to search for 30s. After two weeks of  no medication being administered, the Morris water maze test was repeated in the same way.
  • Following the last test, animals were anaesthetised, blood was taken by cardiac puncture and then they were killed by cervical dislocation (having their necks broken).

This experiment was done to try and see what the cognitive side effects of a cardiovascular medication are in guinea pigs as a way of trying to investigate side effects that had been reported in humans.

Animal testing is notoriously inaccurate at replicating human physiology, with a shocking 95% of drugs trusted in animals failing in human clinical trials.

That’s a huge failure rate and shows us that the current way we are trying to find cures for humans, isn’t working. This is because animals don't make good models of human physiology, we simply aren’t 80kg guinea pigs.   



Here are three ways you can help today:

  1. So that as many people as possible can hear about what the University of Otago is up to, please share one of our latest posts on Facebook or share our #OtagoExposed webpage with your friends and whānau! 
  2. Sign our petition aimed at ending animal experimentation: Help us by calling on the New Zealand Government to start prioritising non-animal-based research methods and replacing the use of animals in science!
  3. Grab one of our gifts that keep giving! We have a series of special Christmas packs that you can get for your loved ones, these contain special posters or prints.


Find out more

  • Learn more about our 12 Days of Christmas campaign, which is exposing more cruelty at Otago. We will be uploading a new experiment that we are exposing to this page every day until the 12th December.
  • Find out why Otago University is at the centre of this campaign.
  • Read more about this story in the media
  • Access the the full paper we have exposed above on our references page.