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Could an elephant’s stress be treated with CBD oil?

Amanda Taylor

Posted on September 28 2020

Could an elephant’s stress be treated with CBD oil?

It’s not just been a tough and unusual year for all of us – Fredzia, the African elephant at Warsaw Zoo, has been going through a difficult time too.

Following the death of Erna, the elder of the herd, zoo keepers noticed an instant change in Frezia’s behaviour as she mourned the loss. “Fredzia reacted strangely when she saw Erna’s body. She was really excited,” Dr Agnieszka Czujkowska, head of the zoo’s Animal Rehabilitation Department said. “But you could see that she was also grieving actually, she was also depressed.”

In the months since, Fredzia has been displaying signs of stress and is struggling to establish a new relationship with her female companion, Buba. The behaviour isn’t strange, though, as it can take elephants years to cope with the loss of an elder.

In a bid to relieve the stress and anxiety amongst the zoo’s animals, the keepers have launched a project to determine whether cannabidiol (CBD) has an effect. The benefits of CBD have long been debated, with the oil believed to stimulate the production of serotonin and dopamine (the messenger chemicals in the brain), which can help combat depression.

Given recent circumstances, the zoo’s elephants will be ideal candidates for the initial study, where their cortisol (a hormone produced in stressful situations) levels will be monitored before and after the CBD is given to them. The changes will reveal whether the oil is working or not and their health will be monitored throughout the process.

Dr Czujkowska does not expect the elephants to experience any serious side effects, and we’ll have our fingers crossed that their stress is soon a thing of the past!

Although derived from cannabis, CBD oil will not result in intoxication because it does not contain THC, a psychoactive component of cannabis. You can find out more about CBD over on our CBD Insights page.




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