Scandal! 12 Camels Were Disqualified from a Saudi Arabia Beauty Contest Over Botox Allegations

FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images
FAYEZ NURELDINE/AFP/Getty Images

Saudi Arabia’s central Riyadh Region has been roiled by an animal show scandal straight from a Christopher Guest film. As NPR reports, around a dozen camels were disqualified from a beauty contest at the annual King Abdulaziz Camel Festival because their handlers illegally plumped their features with Botox injections.

The month-long Camel Festival in Al Dhana, Saudi Arabia, runs through February 1, 2018, and features around 30,000 camels. The animals participate in races, an obedience competition, and a beauty contest. Nearly $57 million in prize money rides on these high-stakes events, and owners preen their prized steeds accordingly with massages, hairspray, and—as it turns out—banned cosmetic surgery procedures, according to The Telegraph.

Camels in the ungulate pageant are judged on whether they have long necks, enlarged lips and noses, a big head, and defined humps. The criteria evidently drove some owners to desperate measures: Shortly before the Camel Festival kicked off, officials discovered that a vet had been injecting some participating camels with botulism.

The vet is receiving heat, but he’s by no means the only competitor to use illegal tactics, according to United Arab Emirates-based newspaper The National. In addition to Botox injections and collagen fillers, some sneaky handlers darken their animals’ coats with oil, rely on hormone injections for enhanced muscularity, and stretch the camels' lips by hand to elongate their appearance. And while large facial features are considered desirable, large lobes aren’t, so the guilty vet’s humped charges also received ear reductions.

Officials can ban enhanced camels from entering future beauty competitions, and owners can face possible legal recourse for violating animal welfare laws. Some breeders have called for cheaters to face stronger punishments, like a fine, which is already applied to drug-enhanced racing camels. As for now, the 12 camels who went under the needle are now under the microscope.

[h/t NPR]

There’s a Supermarket in Croatia With UNESCO Protection

The Palace of Diocletian in Split, Croatia
The Palace of Diocletian in Split, Croatia
iStock.com/majaiva

The Billa store in Split, Croatia, doesn’t look like your average supermarket. There are Roman columns jutting out of the floor, and it’s housed inside a complex that contains a palace dating back to the 3rd century CE. Because of its unique location within a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the grocery store is technically protected by the United Nations, according to Atlas Obscura.

Split, which can be reached by ferry from the Game of Thrones-famous city of Dubrovnik, is known among travelers for its beaches and ancient Roman and medieval monuments, but also for its nightlife and modern conveniences. The Billa supermarket is representative of what happens when these two worlds collide.

The store has since been acquired by SPAR grocery, but you can still find it on the ground floor of the Mala Papalićeva Palača complex, which was reportedly built in the 13th century and once belonged to a noble family. The building is part of a larger complex known as Diocletian’s Palace, which Atlas Obscura describes as “a city within a city that comprises the historic center of Split.”

The area became a UNESCO site in 1979, but the ground floor remained privately owned, which allowed the grocery store to legally buy the unit and set up shop in 2014. Some locals were shocked, according to Croatia Week, but officials reportedly had no means of stopping the development. So the next time you want to peruse the cheese selection while admiring ancient architecture, you’ll know exactly where to go.

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Solved: The Mystery of Why Garfield Phones Have Been Washing Ashore in France for 35 Years

JD Hancock, Flickr // CC BY 2.0
JD Hancock, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Ever since his newspaper debut in 1978, the lasagna-loving and lackadaisical comic strip cat Garfield has been a ubiquitous presence in popular culture. Thousands of licensed products, a series of movies, and animated shows made him famous. Garfield’s creator, Jim Davis, even admitted he set out to create a character that would be easy to market.

That ambition backfired in a big way for the people living near the Iroise coast in Brittany, France. For decades, plastic telephones shaped like Garfield have washed ashore. Some arrive complete; others are in fragments. In 2018, more than 200 pieces appeared on the beach.

The reason was a mystery—until now. According to the BBC, anti-litter activists from France’s Ar Viltansou group recently mounted an awareness campaign drawing attention to the waste on the beaches, which sit at the Iroise Marine Nature Park.

The press caught the attention of a local farmer, René Morvan, who told Ar Viltansou president Claire Simonin-Le Meur that a raging storm in the 1980s led to a shipping container full of the phones being freed from a cargo ship. The container settled into a sea cave, where it remained mostly hidden. Morvan and his brother waded out to investigate and discovered the stash.

Acting on the information, representatives from Ar Viltansou and the Franceinfo media outlet set out to find the container during low tide, which was buried and surrounded by a number of the phones. The novelty items are said to be in incredible condition given the water and their age, with the paint mostly intact. Inside the phones, activists discovered starfish threaded between cables and crabs making their homes.

While the smoking gun has been found, it may not do much to resolve the waste issue. The container is mostly inaccessible and it’s unknown how many more Garfield phones still linger. Worse, no one is quite sure if there’s not another container somewhere out there, prepared to deposit a seemingly inexhaustible supply of Garfield phones in perpetuity.

[h/t BBC]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER