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Elephants stranded in cold given vodka

Dec. 14, 2012 at 2:53 PM

NOVOSIBIRSK, Russia, Dec. 14 (UPI) -- Russian officials said two elephants stranded temporarily by a trailer fire were given vodka to help keep them from freezing in the Siberian cold.

Authorities in the Novosibirsk region said the Asian elephants belonging to a Polish circus were forced out of their wooden trailer when it caught fire and ended up on the highway in minus 40-degree weather, the BBC reported Friday.

RIA Novosti reported the 48- and 45-year-old elephants' handler had the animals jog to keep them from freezing and they were given a mixture of water and vodka to keep them from freezing.

The elephants, which suffered frostbite to their ears, were soon taken to a nearby heated garage.

Scientists say alcohol can make humans or animals feel warmer, but actually lowers their core body temperature.

However, Novosibirsk zoo director Rostislav Shilo said he believes the vodka prevented the animals from suffering hypothermia or pneumonia.

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