Saudi Arabia holds an annual camel beauty contest.
And 12 camels were recently disqualified from the competition because a veterinarian injected botox (botulinum) into their lips and foreheads.
The camels in the King Abdulaziz camel festival are judged on their pouts and natural beauty, which led a veterinarian to inject a dozen camels in the running with botox to make their lips more pronounced.
The prize money at the festival totals 20m Saudi riyals, over 50 million US dollars, according to The National, which caused many participants to cheat with their camels.
"The people who are just in the camel competition to make it more valuable, they are cheating everyone," said Ali Al Mazrouei, the son of a top Emirati camel breeder. "A fine should be applied. In camel racing, whoever is using drugs is fined about 50,000 Dirhams in Abu Dhabi. The fine is not yet applied for beauty camels."
30,000 camels came together in Al Dhana, 120 kilometres from Riyadh, for one the largest camel pageants in Saudi Arabia. The industry of camel pageantry is extremely popular and camels who receive the title of most beautiful rise to celebrity status in the United Arab Emirates.
The camels are judged on their height, the placement of their hump, and the way their lips droop. In order to make these features more pronounced, contenders use enhancers. Mazrouei said:
"They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw. It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it's like, 'Oh look at how big is that head is. It has big lips, a big nose'."
Saudi media reported that the veterinarian was caught before the festival also giving camels plastic surgery. Not only were the 12 camels given botox injections, but the vet was also trying to reduce the size of their ears, as that is another winning attribute.
Competitors caught using botox or other forms of cruel cheating measures in the month-long festival are not even banned. The camel itself is not allowed to return to the competition but their handlers caught cheating can enter the competition using another camel. Festival goers and fans of camel beauty pageants are fighting for stricter punishments for animal abuse as the camel is a revered animal in Saudi tradition.
Chief judge Fawzan al-Madi told Reuters:
"The camel is a symbol of Saudi Arabia. We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime."
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