A native of Australia, the 75-year-old breeder fell in the backyard and the bird then attacked him..
On Friday, April 12, a Cassowary, a giant flightless bird, killed its owner after he fell in the backyard of his home in Gainesville, Florida.
The 75-year-old owner Marvin Hajos was a breeder of the rare bird. The exotic bird was kept on his property. On the day of the fateful incident, the owner made the first 911 call at about 10 am ET. The second call was made by another person who reported a medical emergency involving a large bird, according to authorities. Hajos was transported to a nearby hospital immediately but succumbed to the injuries.
A 75-year-old man was killed by his cassowary, a giant bird with long claws on each foot, after he fell in the backyard of his Gainesville, Florida, home, officials say https://t.co/hBPPMsaAe4 pic.twitter.com/koZcESPmK6— CNN (@CNN) April 15, 2019
According to CNN, the Alachua County Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Taylor said that it appeared that the man fell, and the cassowary attacked him after the fall, hence making it an accident. However, the cassowary is still on the property as the authorities conduct a thorough investigation, said Lt. Joshua Crews of the Alachua County Sheriff's Office (ASO).
Lt. Brett Rhodenizer from ASO told WCJB that they believe Hajos was in the pen trying to retrieve an egg from one of the birds, with a metal rod, when he was attacked. Two other breeding pairs of birds are still on the property. Their future will be decided by the family.
Cassowaries are considered Class II wildlife, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. According to the website, this means they "pose a danger to people. Substantial experience and specific cage requirements must be met." Other animals in the same category include another flightless bird i.e. ostrich, bobcats, alligators, honey badgers among others.
A native of Australian and Papua New Guinea, the cassowary is the heaviest bird in Australia and the second heaviest in the world after its cousin, the ostrich. It can run up to 31 mph through dense underbrush, jump almost 7 feet into the air and is a skilled swimmer, so it can deftly fend off threats, the zoo says. Dutch traders first brought this species from New Guinea to Europe in 1597.
They grow more than 5 feet tall and at their heaviest, female cassowaries can weigh more than 160 pounds. Males weigh up to 120 pounds. According to San Diego Zoo, the long claw on their foot also comes in handy when digging for fallen fruit in the leaf litter. They have a life span of up to 40 years in zoos, up to 19 years in the wild.
This exotic bird is considered the most dangerous bird in the world. Rightly so because that dagger-like claw on their foot can grow up 4 inches long which can slice open any predator.
However, there is only one other documented death caused by a cassowary, according to Scientific American. It occurred in mainland Australia when 16-year-old Phillip McClean received an injury to the throat after running from a cassowary and falling to the ground. And this happened waaay back in 1926!?! So maybe, just maybe the title of "most dangerous" bird could be a bit of an overkill. Maybe if human beings just left cassowaries to their own devices and don't disturb their natural habitat, there won't be any deaths at their claws at all.