A cassowary is responsible for the death of a 75-year-old man who was breeding what many experts consider to be the most dangerous bird in the world. The man reportedly fell while on the property where he kept the large bird. It’s believed that the bird then attacked the fallen man, killing him with his long nails.
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The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department in Gainesville, Florida, responded to a call Friday morning of a large bird attacking an elderly man. First responders found Marvin Hajos injured in his backyard. He was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead, CNN reported.
“My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked,” Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor said in a press conference.
Lieutenant Brett Rhodenizer, a sheriff’s office spokesman, echoed similar sentiments. “Initial information indicates that this was a tragic accident for Mr. Hajos,” he said. Hajos was a breeder of the dangerous bird, which is indigenous to Australia, SBS News reported.
Cassowaries are closely related to emus and can run over 30 miles per hour, according to Business Insider. The exotic bird can stand over 5 feet tall and weigh over 130 pounds. It’s a skilled swimmer and can jump over 7 feet in the air.
A cassowary’s main defenses are his powerful legs and razor-sharp claws. It isn’t illegal to own one of these birds, but the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requires breeders/owners to have “substantial experience” with the bird.
A 1999 study of the bird found that they normally only attack humans who have fed them. Of the 150 cassowaries studied, around 75% of them were fed by a human at one point in their life.
The exotic bird remains on Hajos’ property until authorities can find a proper home or sanctuary for it.
“Sheriff’s Office personnel will continue their investigation, and may coordinate with the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) if necessary as the case progresses,” Rhodenizer said.