Elephants at the Warsaw Zoo in Poland have been prescribed CBD oil after workers noticed signs of stress when a member of the herd died.
The zoo’s herd of three African elephants are being given doses of cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, as part of a project to determine whether it could reduce their stress levels, the BBC and Agence France-Presse reported.
CBD is one of the more than 100 chemicals in cannabis and it does not contain THC, the chemical in marijuana that causes psychological effects. A vial’s worth of CBD oil will be given to the creatures two or three times a day.
The experiment, explained zoo veteran Agnieszka Czujkowska, began after the eldest elephant in the herd, Erna, died earlier this year. Czujkowska told the BBC that her death left Fredzia, a young elephant in the herd, with signs of grief and depression.
“Elephants might have behavioral problems when the structure of a group changes,” she told the BBC.
Zoo workers have already tested the animals’ blood, urine and feces to study their cortisol levels. They will undergo regular blood tests to monitor their health and stress levels, the BBC reported.
CBD is often touted in humans as a way to alleviate anxiety, depression and aches. It has been federally approved to treat some rare forms of epilepsy, but the FDA has tried to crack down on sellers’ claims that CBD can treat conditions like cancer, heart disease and diabetes.
A small Cornell study from 2019 found that dogs’ stress levels were largely reduced after taking CBD. However its benefits, on a larger scale, remain to be seen.
Czujkowska assured AFP that the elephants’ new medication hasn’t caused euphoria — or any harmful side effects — to the herd.
Contributing: Ryan W. Miller, USA TODAY; Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press. Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote