Actual alcohol history: Russian vodka saves elephants’ lives

(Originally written December 14, 2012)

Vodka may be shortening the lifespan of the typical Russian male, but when it comes to a couple circus elephants stranded in Siberia, it’s actually a lifesaver.  As RIA Novosti reports, “the two Indian elephants, owed by a traveling Polish circus, were transported from Novokuznetsk to Omsk on late Thursday” when the “hay in the truck caught fire from the diesel engine heating the cargo section.”  With their transport going down in flames, the southbound pachyderms were left to hitch a ride in the middle of the highway.

Fortunately, liquid relief was on the way.  The two animals were taken to a nearby garage, where “As an added precaution, the elephants were served two cases of vodka mixed with warm water,” according to the Russian news agency.  Apparently, that really hit the spot.  “They roared like it was the jungle…Must have been happy,” the district official told RIA Novosti.

Mind you, they weren’t necessarily warmer; it’s just that the booze turned all their bad feelings into good feelings.  As the BBC reports, “alcohol can make animals feel warmer but it actually lowers their core body temperature, scientists say.”  But despite the objections of these unnamed scientists, the BBC notes that “Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper quoted Novosibirsk zoo director Rostislav Shilo as saying that the elephants were not harmed or intoxicated by the vodka, and that without it they would have died of hypothermia or pneumonia.”  Note to self: Pack bottle of Russian Standard in outdoor survival kit!

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