BANDER SERI BEGAWAN (BORNEO BULLETIN, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, REUTERS) - Elsa the chicken from Brunei has won first prize in the Hen Category of the 2019 Open Contest for Ornate and Beautiful Serama in Sabah.
Elsa is owned by Mr Emran bin Haji Damit, whose hobby is raising ornamental serama, a breed loved for its puffed-out chest, soldier's ramrod posture and docility.
He also entered two other pet chickens in the recent contest - Nemo, who won second prize in the Juvenile "B" category; and Bumblebee, who came in fourth in the Serama "A" category.
Mr Emran told the Bulletin: "I'm delighted about Elsa being the champion hen... I am also happy that my other chickens didn't do too badly, coming in second and fourth in their categories."
Ninety-eight serama bantams, including Elsa, competed in the poultry pageant organised by Team Serama Putatan (TSP) in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
The breed is believed to be a cross between the Malaysian serama wild fowl and Japanese bantam. The Malaysia serama first emerged decades ago as a decorative pet among the sultans before gaining a broader public following beginning in the 1980s.
Standing at around 15cm tall, the Malaysian serama faced extinction during Asia's bird flu outbreak of 2004, when over 50,000 were culled as part of government safety measures.
The serama is eaten by many in Malaysia for its perceived aphrodisiac effects and as a treatment for asthma.
The breed - among the world's smallest chickens with adults weighing less than 500g - has been a favoured pet in Malaysia for decades. But its popularity has spread to as far as Europe and the United States thanks to the breed's distinctive characteristics.
These include a richly coloured plumage and a bearing marked by a protruding, heart-shaped chest and wings that hang straight to the ground, giving the bird the air of a goose-stepping soldier on military parade.