Moscow: What do you do if you are stuck with two circus elephants on a Siberian highway, the elephant-transporting truck burning and the animals freezing in minus 40 degrees Celsius? You make them jog and give them vodka.

Problems started when the two Indian elephants, owned by a travelling Polish circus, were transported from Novokuznetsk to Omsk late Thursday, an official said Friday.

The hay in the truck caught fire from the diesel engine heating the cargo section, where the elephants were.
The truck had to be stopped and the elephants promptly released. They escaped the fire unharmed, but were left stranded on a Siberian highway in winter.

The handler made the animals jog so that they did not freeze, the official said.

Meanwhile, local authorities were alerted and the animals were moved into a heated garage nearby.

As an added precaution, the elephants were served two cases of vodka mixed with warm water.

"They roared like it was the jungle... Must have been happy," the official said.

The pachiderms got away with minor frostbite to their legs and tips of their ears, nothing that would disrupt their performance schedule, a spokeswoman for the Omsk city circus said.

Their handler was hospitalised, also with frostbite.


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