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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

In case you missed it, last weekend was Turkey's Camel Beauty Contest and Camel Wrestling Festival

On the right, a camel owner stands next to his camel as he waits for the start of the Camel Beauty Contest ahead of the annual Selcuk-Efes Camel Wrestling Festival.

The Selcuk-Efes Camel Wrestling Festival (wiki) was held last weekend (January 17 - 18), in the town of Selcuk, near the western Turkish coastal city of Izmir. It’s the wrestling event of the year in Turkey, but don’t expect to see the likes of Hulk Hogan or The Rock anywhere near this arena.

Hundreds of wrestling camels competed in an annual event watched by thousands of enthusiasts in the country. 

The animals are divided into categories based on their weight and age. The tradition is a major tourist attraction and dates back more than 2,400 years when it was first carried out by Turkic tribes.

The males naturally fight for their females during mating season and their readiness to do battle is visible in the white froth coming from their mouths, the tension in their hind legs and their tails whipping at their backs.

There is no overall winner of the competition but rather, for every pair that wrestles, there is a camel that wins. For a winner to be declared, one of the camels has to run out of the arena or fall to the ground. 

Most matches end in ties because their owners fear their prized camels could be harmed.

The sport has been criticized by animal welfare groups, but organizers say they have listened to these concerns and improved camel safety.

Apparently the camel beauty phenomenon is not limited to Turkey - here's a story on a camel beauty contest in the United Arab Emirates, and this story is from Saudi Arabia in 2012: 13 camels on way to beauty contest killed by truck.

Want more pictures? Reuters has a slide show.

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