Florida Man Killed By His Own Large, Flightless Bird

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A Florida man was killed by his cassowary, a six-foot-tall flightless bird similar to an ostrich or an emu, when he fell in the animal’s enclosure.

The Daily Beast says that Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor explained to the Gainesville Sun that cassowary are native to Australia and New Guinea, and kill their prey with their four inch, sharp talons.

“My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked,” Taylor said.

A trainer at the San Diego Zoo explained that even though they can’t fly, cassowaries can run fast, and they kill and cut open their kills with their knifelike talons.

“The cassowary can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick. Powerful legs help the cassowary run up to 31 miles per hour… through the dense forest underbrush.”

Cassowaries are sought-after and are farmed for collectors, as their meat is considered tough. The Florida man, Marvin Hajos, 75, was raising the birds, which are hatched out of large, bright green eggs. Gainesville Sun explains that cassowary are considered among the most dangerous birds in the world, and they don’t tend to be particularly friendly to humans.

Alachua County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Lt. Brett Rhodenizer identified Hajos as the deceased owner of the farm, saying that this was just a “tragic accident,” but that they are still investigating the matter.

“Initial information indicates that this was a tragic accident for Mr. Hajos and his family. The cassowary involved remains secured on private property at this time,” Rhodenizer said.

A woman who identified herself as his fiancee said that Hajos was doing what he loved, but didn’t want to make any further statement. Hajos was taken to University of Florida Health Shands Hospital and died there, said Alachua County Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor.

Karen Parker, a Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokesperson, explained that the office got a call saying that a cassowary had killed someone in the state. They added that raising these birds is not for those without experience in handling them due to the potential danger.

“[Cassowaries] can also pose a danger to people. Substantial experience and specific cage requirements must be met,” Parker said.

Most people who buy or hatch cassowary do it for the novelty, like peacocks, and although they are not eaten in the United States, they are still part of the diet in New Guinea.