Exotic, risky bird kills owner in Florida

Elias Hubbard
April 15, 2019

Cassowaries are flightless birds akin to an emu or ostrich, and they are considered to be quite risky, especially if they feel threatened or frightened.

"My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell". A permit is required to own one of the exotic birds.

Reports suggest the man fell, possibly while feeding the animal, and the startled bird attacked as a result.

Potentially already injured from his fall, Hajos would have been in the most vulnerable position for an attack by his pet. Emergency responders arrived and whisked him off to a nearby hospital but he ultimately succumbed to his injuries.

Alachua County sheriff's deputies said the bird's owner, Marvin Hajos, 75, was breeding the rare birds, which are native to New Guinea and Australia and considered the "world's most unsafe birds", WCJB reported.

Each of its three-toed foot has a dagger-like claw on the inner toe that is up to 4 inches long, according to the San Diego Zoo.

"Initial information indicates that this was a tragic accident for Mr. Hajos", said Lt. Brett Rhodenizer, a sheriff's office spokesman, in an email to the paper.

Cassowaries can grow to 6-feet tall and weight in at about 130 pounds. "The cassowary involved remains secured on private property at this time".

"The cassowary can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick", the website says.

Cassowaries have powerful legs and can run up to 31 miles per hour through dense underbrush in the rainforest.

When sheriff's deputies arrived they realized how serious the situation was, as the bird was a cassowary, a large and often aggressive species native to Australia.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission categorises the cassowary as a Class II species which can "pose a danger to people".

An exotic bird related to the emu killed its owner in Florida on Friday, according to authorities.

Wildlife officials did not answer phone calls late Saturday from The Associated Press and it wasn't immediately known what would happen with the bird.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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