Camels were once prized across the Middle East for transportation, for use in war, for food and even as companions, as guides and partners. Now they’re prized for a whole different set of reasons, including their beauty and racing abilities, and are celebrated at annual camel festivals across the region.
But it was a little surprising when news reports began surfacing that at least 12 camels have been disqualified from a camel beauty pageant in Saudi Arabia after their handlers were caught using Botox on them.
Because a “perfect pout” is so valuable, camel owners will go to great lengths to ensure their camel has the proper assets, including “a full, droopy lip and large features,” The National reported.
“They use Botox for the lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” Ali Al Mazrouei, 31, a regular at Gulf camel festivals and the son of a top Emirati breeder told the online site.
“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,’” features the camels are prized for. They’re also prized for small ears and some handlers have been known to take matters into their own hands and perform plastic surgery on the ears to achieve a perfect ear.
It’s no wonder camel handlers are so serious about the appearance of their beasts and willing to risk disqualification to enhance their features: $57 million is at stake in prize money at this year’s festival.
Some 300,000 visitors have attended the second annual festival since it started in early January. It runs through the end of the month.