A zoo in Poland gives their stressed-out elephants marijuana

Elephants, photo: Mylon Ollila on Unsplash
Elephants, photo: Mylon Ollila on Unsplash

The Warsaw Zoo in Poland said Wednesday it would start giving its elephants medical marijuana to test how it reduces their stress levels.

Medical cannabis has been used worldwide to treat dogs and horses, but “this is probably the first initiative of its kind for elephants,” Agnieszka Czujkowska, the veterinarian in charge of the project, told AFP.

The zoo’s three African elephants will be given liquid doses of a high concentration of the relaxing cannabinoid CBD through their trunks. “It’s an attempt to find a new natural alternative to the existing methods of combating stress, especially pharmaceutical drugs,” Czujkowska told AFP.

She said the project comes at a ‘good’ time as the zoo’s herd has recently had to cope with the death of their alpha female. The zoo monitors the elephants’ stress by checking their hormone levels and through behavioral observation.

Czujkowska said it will take around two years before her team has any conclusive results. If successful, the initiative could then be tried with other animals living in captivity. 

“Contrary to what some would imagine, the elephants won’t be using cannabis pipes nor will they be getting huge barrels of it” to match their size, Czujkowska said with a laugh. 

The initial doses will be comparable to those given to horses: a vial’s worth of a dozen drops of CBD oil, two or three times a day. “The female Fryderyka has already had a chance to try it and she didn’t say no,” Czujkowska said.

In this interview, Scott Blais, the CEO of Global Sanctuary for Elephants, mentions that elephants are happiest when they live free. The difference they see in elephants from captivity to freedom is huge.

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