Locals defend Turkish camel wrestling festival

The 40th International Camel Wrestling Festival was held in Selcuk, part of the Aegean province of Izmir, on Sunday with 152 camels sporting saddles and ornamental cloths and embroidery of various patterns and colours on their humps and necks.

The camels are brought into a sandy arena to tangle with each other, with referees and other personnel nearby, although they are made to wear muzzles to prevent bite wounds.

Thousands of people set up tables and chairs on a hill adjacent to the arena and cook on barbecues, eat and drink while they watch the animals wrestle.

Despite criticism from animal rights groups, Mehmet Falakali, former head of the tourism ministry's Selcuk office, said the camels cannot seriously hurt each other and there were personnel to separate them if clashes become too intense.

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