It turns out 2020 hasn't just been hard for humans. The BBC reports on the case of an elephant in Poland who will be given CBD oil by zookeepers who are hoping to learn whether the oil could lessen anxiety in animals. They say that anxiety set in for Fredzia specifically in March following the death of the four-animal herd's 35-year-old leader, Ema. Dr Agnieszka Czujkowska, who heads the Warsaw Zoo's Animal Rehabilitation Department, said Fredzia's grief and depression were apparent after she saw Ema's body, and she has since been showing signs of stress. As the BBC explains, "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." And so the zoo will test whether CBD oil might help her and will administer it to the other two elephants if it does, reports Notes From Poland.
The oil is derived from the cannabis plant but is non-psychoactive; it's believed to help with the production of serotonin and dopamine, which can ease depression. As for how the zookeepers will know if it's working, they've already analyzed Fredzia's blood, saliva, and feces to establish her level of cortisol, which rises under stress. They'll administer the CBD and then recheck the cortisol levels. Professor Caitlin O'Connell, an elephant researcher with Stanford, is optimistic about the treatment in comments to the Independent. "[Elephants] do appear to display similar behaviors to our own in the context of loss, and since we share the same hormones, anything that helps reduce anxiety seems worth trying." (Read more CBD stories.)