Camels strut their stuff in beauty competition

AP , BEIJING

Sun, Nov 16, 2003 - Page 5

Shiny hair. Upright humps. Sharp outfits. And definitely no swimsuit competition.

If you're in the market for a beautiful camel, those are apparently the things you might want to consider. And in northern China, they're doing just that -- holding a dromedary beauty contest as part of what is billed as "the first international camel festival."

The beauty competition in the Inner Mongolia region attracted nearly 100 dressed-up camels "as well as more than 2,000 fans," the official Xinhua News Agency said yesterday.

The judges, mostly experienced camel herders, described the criteria for victory to Xinhua: The camels, they said, "should have good appearance -- shiny hair and upright humps -- and should be good dressers wearing beautiful halters and saddles in a proper way."

The contest was held in a community called Alxa League, known as the "camel hometown." It has one-third of China's camels and is the main habitat for the double-humped Bactrian camel, Xinhua said. The two-humped Bactrian is indigenous to Mongolia and was domesticated some 3,000 years ago.

Festival sponsors said they wanted the camel beauty competition to generate more attention for the beasts.