Kingdom shielded herself from the Thai sun in
Pattaya with a lace fan and reluctantly gripped a baby
turtle between two painted fingernails. Miss Costa
Rica thought her turtle was getting too dry, so she
swished it in a bucket of water.
In a world
increasingly concerned about climate change, the 25
transvestite and transgender contestants in Saturday's
fourth annual Miss International Queen competition are
trying to promote awareness on how people are damaging
the environment. Organizers say the contestants often
draw attention wherever they go.
On Tuesday the
buxom group released turtles from a sunny beach into the
Gulf of Thailand, posing for group photos in matching
lime-green polo shirts and white pants. Releasing baby
turtles is a popular project among conservationists in
Southeast Asia, where seaside development and
pollution threaten the animals.
contestants were not amused.
slimy!'' exclaimed Camila Pryns of Switzerland, holding a
turtle smaller than her palm and adjusting her dark
sunglasses so they covered her penciled eyebrows. ''I
love being here, and the air smells so good. But the
turtles feel gross.''
contest, managed by Tiffany's transvestite cabaret based in
the rowdy coastal resort town of Pattaya for the fourth year
running, has the theme ''Think About It'' -- to
encourage people to protect the earth.
were traveling around Thailand ahead of the competition,
joining green-themed projects like planting orchids and
Shima Shyna, a
contestant from Japan with a bouffant hairdo, said
releasing turtles was a tradition for her.
''In my country,
the beaches of Okinawa [island] have become a tourist
destination, and the turtles are in great danger,'' Shyna
She said she and
her family go to the beach every year to drive away
birds so newly hatched turtles can make it safely to the
sea. ''I love it. It's very spiritual for me.''
A contestant from
the Philippines, Rain Marie, was sad to see her turtle
go. After naming it Pawican -- ''Turtle'' in her language,
Tagalog -- she gave the amphibian a big kiss.
''If you kiss
them and make a wish before you release them, you will live
a longer life because turtles live so long,'' she said.
believe the beauty queens' participation can make a
transvestites do, they always make more noise,'' said
pageant spokeswoman Buranii Chandraparnik. ''Global
warming is a mounting concern for the entire world.''
(Matthew Treib, AP)