Camels Busted for Botox in Pageant Scandal

At least 12 kicked out of Saudi festival
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2018 4:13 AM CST
Members of the jury discuss three camels during the final day of a camel festival.   (AP Photo/Kamran Jebreili)
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(Newser) – Saudi Arabia is holding its annual monthlong camel festival—and cheaters are not welcome. With around $60 million up for grabs in races and show competitions, unscrupulous owners have been drugging animals and even giving them Botox injections in an attempt to win camel beauty pageants, the National reports. At least a dozen camels have already been disqualified for Botox, which can give camels the full lips that judges look for. "They use Botox for ... the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips, and even the jaw," says the son of a top Emirati camel breeder. "It makes the head more inflated so when the camel comes it's like, 'Oh, look at how big ... that head is. It has big lips, a big nose.'"

According to reports in Saudi media, one veterinarian was caught actually performing plastic surgery on camels to give them the small, delicate ears also considered beautiful. Anti-cheating measures include blood tests, microchipping—and requiring owners to swear on the Koran about their animal's age. Reuters reports that amid rapid change in Saudi Arabia, authorities seeking to maintain links to traditional Saudi culture have expanded the camel festival and moved it closer to the capital, Riyadh. "The camel is a symbol of Saudi Arabia," says chief judge Fawzan al-Madi. "We used to preserve it out of necessity, now we preserve it as a pastime." (The kingdom recently lifted its 35-year ban on movie theaters.)

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