Moscow: Vodka saved two circus elephants in Russia from the deadly Siberian cold.
Emergency ministry spokesman Alexander Davydov said on Friday that the elephants were in a trailer that caught fire on Thursday outside the city of Novosibirsk, forcing trainers to take them out into the bitter cold before another truck arrived to deliver them to a warm gym at a local community college.
The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported that trainer Leonid Labo had the animals, aged 45 and 48, drink 10 liters (2.6 gallons) of vodka diluted in warm water – and a veterinarian said later that only the tips of their ears were frostbitten.
Novosibisk zoo director Rostislav Shilo told the daily that the vodka saved the animals from frostbite and pneumonia, without harming or even intoxicating them.
A vicious cold snap across Russia and eastern Europe has claimed nearly 200 lives.
In Russia, the cold has killed two people in the past 24 hours, the Ria-Novosti agency reported, citing medical sources, bringing the total number of deaths to 56 by December 21st.
The freeze had also left 371 people in hospital.
Thermometers have been stuck below minus 20 degrees Celsius (minus 4 Fahrenheit) in Moscow—and below minus 50 degrees (minus 58 F) in some parts of Siberia—