London: Circus keepers saved two elephants from dying in minus 41C Siberian blizzard by giving them buckets of Russian vodka to drink.
The animals had been forced to abandon their wooden trailer when a heater caught fire, while they were travelling to Minsk, and were soon struggling with the Arctic temperatures.
"We mixed 10 litres of vodka with warm water, which kept the chill at bay," the Daily Express quoted Polish circus official Leonid Labo as saying.
A spokesman for the fire brigade which was called to the blaze in the Tatar district of Novosibirsk region said, "The elephants were huge but really friendly."
"As soon as they were told to go out into the cold they obeyed.
"They had to spend a bit of time shivering in the blizzard while we were putting the fire out," he said.
While the elephants stood in the cold, their quick-thinking minders went to the nearest shop to search for vodka.
The elephants Magda, 45, and Jenny, 48, eventually spent the night in a local school gym before continuing their tour the next morning.
A vet who examined them said the tips of their ears were frostbitten but otherwise they were unharmed.
"They rubbed the elephants with an ointment and as far as I understand, nothing else was wrong with them," the vet said.
"The vodka certainly seems to have helped save the beasts from hypothermia," the vet added.