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The Komsomolskaya Pravda daily reported that trainer Leonid Labo had the animals, aged 45 and 48, drink 2.6 gallons of vodka diluted in warm water — and a veterinarian said later that only the tips of their ears were frostbitten.

Although scientists say that alcohol can make humans feel warmer but actually lowers their core body temperature, Novosibisk zoo director Rostislav Shilo told the daily that the vodka saved the animals from frostbite and pneumonia, without harming or even intoxicating them.

From wire dispatches and staff reports