Vets turn to cannabis oil to help depressed animals

accreditation
0:00
play article
Subscribers can listen to this article
A zebra is seen in the city Zoo in Warsaw, Poland on April 16, 2020. The zoo has been closed for nearly a month and has been struggling financially after forced closure due to the coronavirus epidemic. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
A zebra is seen in the city Zoo in Warsaw, Poland on April 16, 2020. The zoo has been closed for nearly a month and has been struggling financially after forced closure due to the coronavirus epidemic. (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

It’s already been known to help people who are suffering from chronic pain, anxiety and stress, but could CBD oil also help animals? A vet at Warsaw Zoo in Poland is using a herd of depressed elephants to try to find out.

Zookeepers were alarmed to notice that the spirits of their three African elephants took a drastic dip after the herd’s matriarch, Erna, died recently. But it was a 23-year-old female named Fredzia who took it the hardest – since March she’s been in deep mourning which had led to her becoming depressed and extremely stressed.

“When Erna passed away, everything changed. I don't think Fredzia was ready for such a big change,” says Dr Agnieszka Czujkowska, the zoo’s head veterinarian. “It can take months or even years for elephants to cope with the loss of an elder and restore a sense of harmony within the herd.”

She and her team tried everything they could think of to help the elephant, but Fredzia has proved inconsolable. Now they’ve decided to turn tocannabidiol (CBD) oil, which is derived from the cannabis plant.

(Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Warsaw Zoo, until now is the only zoo in Poland who had births of asian rhinos. Shikari, mother of Yang already gave a total of three births since she arrived at Warsaw Zoo (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
(Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)
Two elephants are seen at the Warsaw Zoo (Photo: Getty Images/Gallo Images)

It’s thought that CBD oil boosts the production of dopamine and serotonin which help ward off depression. But unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the psychoactive component of cannabis, CBD oil will not make the animals high – so there’s no chance of them being harmed.   

Doses will be given to Fredzia and the other two elephants with their food then they will be closely monitored. The vets will be on the look out for any changes to their levels of cortisol (stress hormone). If they come down, then it will be a sign the CBD oil is working.

Other studies have shown that the oil reduces anxiety in horses and dogs and zoo experts have high hopes that this specific study might show that it also helps to calm elephants.

Other animals at the zoo, including rhinos and bears, also stand to benefit if the oil helps to cheer up Fredzia and her herd.

“If the results are good, we hope to invite further animals for an adventure with hemp,” Czujkowska says.

SOURCES: BBC.COM, HUFFPOST.COM, NOTESFROMPOLAND.COM

 

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24