SEP 01, 2020 2:52 PM PDT

Warsaw Zoo Testing CBD to Manage Elephants' Stress

WRITTEN BY: Tiffany Dazet

Humans use cannabidiol (CBD) for its array of health benefits, and household pets even benefit from CBD treatments in specific circumstances. AP News reports that thanks to successes seen with CBD use in dogs and horses, scientists at a Warsaw zoo are planning to use CBD to treat stress in elephants.

According to AP News, the female African elephants at the zoo are experiencing an unusual period of stress resulting from the death of an older female elephant, Erna. The AP reports that since Erna's death, the remaining females struggle to establish a social hierarchy. Patryk Pycinski, a mammal expert at the zoo, said that Fredzia, a 23-year old elephant, "is stressed because she is the boss of the herd." Without the third older elephant buffer, Fredzia is more stressed and controlling of Buba, the other 23-year old female elephant.
 
Zoo veterinarian Dr. Angieszka Czujkowska told AP News, "Basically, stress is everywhere, and we don't know what's going to happen in the future. Maybe one of the elephants will be pregnant, maybe there will be some kind of injury sometimes…They can get sick for no reason." Dr. Czujkowska said that CBD would be something to help animals through difficult times. CBD is ideal since it is not a drug, and it has anti-inflammatory and other beneficial properties.

To prepare for CBD use, the zoo team measured cortisol levels from hundreds of fecal, salvia, and blood samples. Once CBD is administered, the team will continue to monitor cortisol levels to determine if CBD impacts the animals' stress hormones. According to BBC News, the CBD oil will be given to the elephants directly into their mouths or mixed in their food. BBC News also reported that Dr. Czujkowska does not expect the elephants to have serious side effects because CBD is mild. 
 
Dr. Czujkowska told AP News that it might be up to two years until they have any results from this study. If successful with elephants, the zoo would like to use hemp oil for other animals such as giraffes, polar bears, or rhinos.

Sources: AP News, BBC News

About the Author
BS Biology
Tiffany grew up in Southern California, where she attended San Diego State University. She graduated with a degree in Biology with a marine emphasis, thanks to her love of the ocean and wildlife. With 13 years of science writing under her belt, she now works as a freelance writer in the Pacific Northwest.
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