Years of research have proven that just like humans, elephants are empathic creatures who feel deeply. They exhibit joy at the birth of a new baby, terror after witnessing a violent poaching, and compassion for other herd members.
It has also been observed that elephants experience profound grief when dealing with the loss of a fellow creature. And for one elephant, scientists are trying to determine whether CBD may help ease the pain of this complex emotion.
Fredzia is an African Elephant housed at the Warsaw Zoo in Poland. Ever since the elder of her herd passed away in March of this year, Fredzia has been despondent and depressed.
But the head of the facility’s rehab department aims to provide her with some relief with cannabis. Agnieszka Czujkowska, the veterinarian in charge of the project, is quick to point out that Fredzia is in no danger of intoxication. The researchers will be administering only CBD to the elephant.
Fredzia is not the only participant in the study. Two other elephants will also be part of the ground-breaking research. The object of the project, according to Czujkowska, is to find natural ways to combat stress that don’t include pharmaceutical drugs.
Since CBD has been shown to potentially alleviate stress in humans and other mammals, it makes sense that elephants would respond in kind. After all, they possess one of the largest endocannabinoid systems of any living being.
How Will They Know If It’s Working?
The first stage of the study has already been completed. Researchers collected blood and body fluid samples and tested them for cortisol, a hormone that becomes elevated in response to stress. These levels will be the baseline for the rest of the study.
Measuring cortisol levels and observing overall behavior after the elephants have ingested CBD will give the scientists a better idea of whether cannabis could work to reduce anxiety and stress in these gentle giants.
The three elephants will receive liquid cannabidiol through their trunks, and the study will take about two years to complete. If it is successful, the group plans to experiment on other animals in captivity, such as bears and rhinos.