The story of the origin of these hens is that just one man began making them, using old plastic bags, for his own amusement. Some of the hens he had made were spotted in the 1980s by the French fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier who immediately ordered some to be made up for one of his spring collections (this sort of quirky object is very much Gaultier's style). From this beginning, these hens have become a small industry. They are exported to several countries and are sold to tourists, in gift shops and markets, and by the roadside in South Africa.
Many of the hens are made in an informal settlement in Cape Town called Khayalitcha. People there buy recycled plastic and over-runs on plastic bags from factories, recycle them into hens and sell them on. Sometimes, people collect discarded plastic bags.
The hens come in many different sizes and colours and are a good example of how imagination and ingenuity can be used to turn recycled materials into income. The craft has developed, and other animals - such as pigs and zebras - are now being made.