Frostbitten elephants saved by two cases of vodka in Siberian freeze

Two elephants have been saved from the deadly Siberian cold by drinking vodka, Russian officials say. They say the animals had to be taken out into the bitter cold after the wooden trailer they were travelling in caught fire in the Novosibirsk region.

The elephants, aged 45 and 48, suffered frostbite to the tips of their ears amid temperatures of -40C (-40F). But they were warmed up by two cases of vodka mixed with warm water. "They started roaring like if they were in the jungle! Perhaps, they were happy," the official said.

The animals continued their recovery in a heated garage of a local college where they were taken by a truck under police escort. The elephants belong to a Polish circus, which has been touring the region, reports say.

Like with humans, alcohol can make animals feel warmer but it actually lowers their core body temperature, scientists say. Novosibirsk zoo director Rostislav Shilo said that the elephants were not harmed or intoxicated by the vodka, and that without it they would have died of hypothermia or pneumonia.