Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture has warned animal breeders that it will impose tough fines ranging from SR50,000 ($13,300) to SR400,000 ($106,000) on anyone who inject animals with Botox and other chemical fillers or adopt any other fraudulent means to change their features.
"A committee for looking into violations has warned against wrong practices and has disqualified camels at the recent beauty pageant in Riyadh for using Botox to make them appear extra beautiful," said Dr. Ali Al-Duwairaj, manager of the department for health and veterinary control at the ministry.
At least 14 camels have been reportedly disqualified from the month-long King Abdulaziz Camel Festival that concluded early this month at Al-Dhahna outside Riyadh. The pageant with a prize money of up to $57 million supported by Saudi royals lured breeders from around the Gulf region.
Organizers of the festival — with 30,000 participating camels — are cracking down on cosmetic enhancements, a malpractice that has thrived amid stiff competition and despite strong penalties as some stake millions on acquiring top breeds.
Dr. Hassan Safar, professor of Shariah policy and comparative laws and judicial systems and legal proceedings at King Abdulaziz University in Jeddah, said it is not permissible to tamper with the look of animals. "It is an illegal practice," he told Al-Watan Arabic daily.
"Such injections make changes in the creation of God, irrespective of material or other benefits, and this practice is a form of cheating to make money in a wrong way," he explained.
He highlighted the harmful effect of such actions on society and said it leads to the entry of forbidden money. "Promoting such fraudulent practices is forbidden," Safar said while advising breeders to beware of God who is watching all their actions.
Officials in charge of camel beauty contests should warn the public against such wrong practices, he said.
"They should inspect animals before such competitions. Breeders should ensure the identity of their camels and other animals. The camel is considered an important national symbol and a rich heritage," Safar said.
Breeder Mubarak Al-Rasheed, who is a traditional healer, also opposed the move to apply modern methods to change the features of camels and other animals, especially rare species.
"Some people inject Botox to change the size of camels' ears and features on their faces," Al-Rasheed told Al-Watan. "Some apply the injection on camels to have droopy lips, a winning attribute for camel pageantry," he added.
Inexperienced practitioners are also involved in this fraudulent beautification process, he said, adding that many of them do not have licenses.
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Veterinarian Naeem Al-Jefri said many camel breeders apply injections on camels to enhance their beauty and make quick money without knowing its dangerous effects on the animals.
"Camels who were subjected to such injections could develop cancer, severe inflammations and other diseases. People who purchase them will have to treat them and this is cheating," he said.
The lure of cash and the prestige of winning propel some to tweak the natural look of camels, an offense that could get the animals banned from the competition for three to five years.
Days before the festival began, Saudi authorities caught one veterinarian performing plastic surgery on camels prompting furious calls for stringent penalties for cheating, media reports said.
Camels were given Botox injections at his clinic and some went under the knife to make their ears more perky, also considered a winning trait.
"Cheating inevitably occurs even in a contest for animal beauty," said chief judge Fawzan Al-Madi. "It is prevalent in camel pageants just like any other animal sport such as horse racing where steroids have found their way."
Al-Madi said specialized vets and a team from the Agriculture Ministry had been deployed to detect violations, which include beauty products such as oils, anesthetic creams and fillers.
This article has been adapted from its original source.
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