More than 40 camels have been disqualified from Saudi Arabia’s beauty pageant for receiving Botox injections and other cosmetic enhancements.
The contest is a highlight of the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, where $66m (£45m) in prize money is at stake.
Key attributes include long, droopy lips, a big nose and a shapely hump.
Judges used “advanced” technology to uncover tampering with camels on a scale not seen before, the state-run Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.
All contestants were first led into a hall where their external appearance and movements were examined by specialists, it said.
Their heads, necks and torsos were then scanned with X-ray and 3D ultrasound machines, and samples were taken for genetic analysis and other tests.
Twenty-seven contestants in the cup for Majaheim camels alone were disqualified for having stretched body parts and 16 were ejected for having received injections, according to SPA.
The organisers of the pageant, the Camel Club, were cited as saying that they were “keen to halt all acts of tampering and deception in the beautification of camels” and promising to “impose strict penalties on manipulators”.
They described how Botox was injected into camels’ lips, noses, jaws and other parts of their heads to relax muscles; collagen fillers were used to make their lips and noses bigger; and hormones were given to boost muscle growth.
Rubber bands were also used on animals to make body parts bigger than normal by restricting the flow of blood, they said.
Jason Baker, senior vice-president of animal rights group Peta Asia, described the beauty contest as a “cruel farce”.
“Subjecting any animal to a cosmetic procedure, from ear cropping to declawing, dehorning, and filler injections, is hideously cruel and shows the humans who use such tactics to be extremely ugly,” he said.
Mr Baker said animal welfare issues needed to be addressed throughout the Middle East and Asia, and called on Saudi authorities to crack down on any event that exploits or abuses animals.
Some 33,000 camel owners from as far away as the US, Russia and France are participating in the King Abdulaziz Camel Festival, which is the largest in the world and lasts 40 days.
As many as 100,000 tourists are also expected daily at the 32 sq km (12 sq mile) festival site, 100km (62 miles) north-east of the Saudi capital Riyadh.