This article originally appeared on VICE AU
Twelve deceivingly pretty camels have been turfed out of an annual camel beauty contest held in Saudi Arabia because their owners took them to a vet for Botox in the mouth, among other procedures, Saudi and international media are reporting.
The month-long King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, held in the Saudi capital of Riyadh, sees judges appraise many different facets of the animal, including the lips. The camel owners' hunger for the insane prize money ($5.3 million USD) apparently drives them to request the modifications, including Botox for a fuller, more alluring gob.
"What distinguishes a beautiful camel is not just its height, shape and the placement of its hump," according to Saudi paper The National. "A full, droopy lip and large features are essential to achieving camel celebrity-status in the multi-million dollar industry of camel pageantry."
But modification of any kind is forbidden in the month-long contest, hence the disqualification. The vet in question allegedly also reduced the size of camels' ears to make them look more delicate, another signifier of camel perfection.
“They use Botox for the [camel's] lips, the nose, the upper lips, the lower lips and even the jaw,” Ali al-Mazrouei, whose father is a "top" camel breeder, told The National. “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.’”
The 12 disqualified camels were among 30,000 competing at the festival. "Everyone wants to be a winner," said Ali Obaid, a camel owner and pageant guide.