A GRIEVING elephant at a Polish zoo is to receive ground-breaking treatment for depression using CBD oil.
Veterinaries at Warsaw Zoo were alarmed when Fredzia – a young female – began to display obvious signs of depression while mourning the death of the herd’s matriarch, Erna, in March.
The change in group dynamics has caused anxiety throughout the herd, but observers say Fredzia is feeling the effects of Erna’s loss more keenly than her peers.
“This is a huge game-changer in every elephant group,” the head of Warsaw Zoo’s Animal Rehabilitation Department – Dr Agnieszka Czujkowska – explained.
The team has turned to an experimental cannabis oil treatment in the hope it will ease the animal’s stress and make it easier for her to bond with a fellow female called Buba.
CBD oil is an extract of the cannabis plant which is believed to encourage the production and release of mood-enhancing chemicals dopamine and serotonin.
The experiment’s success will be measured by examining the elephant’s levels of cortisol – a stress hormone released by most mammals, including humans.
“We are planning to give them the CBD and measure the cortisol again,” Dr Czujkowska added.
“This is the experiment. Then we know for sure the oil is working or not.”
The trial has been given the thumbs-up by the Stanford University Mushara project, led by Professor Caitlin O’Connell. The project has been monitoring the social structure of elephant groups for several years.
Prof O’Connell said the treatment was an appropriate avenue to take, considering the effects CBD and cannabis compounds may have on relieving stress in humans.
“Elephants do appear to display similar behaviours to our own in the context of loss, and since we share the same hormones, anything that helps reduce anxiety seems worth trying,” she told the Independent.
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