As "The Siberian Times" reports, the quick-thinking circus workers ran to a local shop to buy a couple cases of vodka, which they mixed with buckets of warm water.
The elephants happily lapped up the concoction on the side of the road, and emerged the next day from sleeping in a local school's gym with nothing worse than a bit of frostbite on the tips of their ears, according to a veterinarian from the area.
The elephants, Jenny and Magda, both in their late 40s, are part of a Polish circus that was working its way back from Japan via Russia. They were on the way from Novosibirsk to Omsk when the heating system in their trailer started a fire.
Novosibirsk Zoo Director Rostislav Shilo said the alcohol saved the elephants from frostbite and pneumonia without harming or even intoxicating them.
One local man said: "We thought the circus workers decided to get drunk. We could understand them: to lose your performers on the road and almost get burned alive -- you know, it's hard to take.
"Then we realized that the two boxes of vodka were for the elephants."
-- Dan Wisniewski