Large, Flightless Bird Attacks and Kills Its Fallen Owner

By The Associated Press

ALACHUA, Fla.—A large, flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea attacked and killed its owner when the man fell on his farm in Florida, authorities said Saturday.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department told the Gainesville Sun that a cassowary killed the man Friday on the property near Gainesville, likely using its long claws. The victim was apparently breeding the birds, state wildlife officials said.

“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 told the newspaper. He said first responders got a call at 10 a.m. Friday and rushed the man to a hospital for trauma care but he died.

The county sheriff’s office identified the victim as Marvin Hajos, 75, and said a death investigation has been opened.

“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. “The cassowary involved remains secured on private property at this time.”

Cassowaries are similar to emus and stand up to 6 feet tall and weigh up to 130 pounds, with black body feathers and distinctive, bright blue heads and necks.

The San Diego Zoo’s website calls the cassowary the world’s most dangerous bird with a four-inch, dagger-like claw on each foot. “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,” the website says.

A cassowary bird that is native to Australia and New Guinea rainforests at the Beijing Zoo, on July 20, 2012. (Mark Ralston/AFP/GettyImages)

Cassowaries are eaten in parts of New Guinea. The birds are not raised for food in the U.S. but are sought after by collectors of exotic birds, according to authorities.

To obtain a mandatory permit, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requires cassowary owners to have “substantial experience” and meet specific cage requirements, spokeswoman Karen Parker told the newspaper. She said the commission lists the cassowary as a type of wildlife that can “pose a danger to people.”

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.

Kangaroo Attacks Paraglider

In related news, a paraglider in Australia was attacked by a kangaroo on March 7, 2019. Luckily, he suffered only minor injuries.

Jonathan Bishop landed near the old Orroral Space Tracking Station, formerly a NASA station built to support satellites in space for the agency’s Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network.

However, moments after he landed, a grey kangaroo quickly hopped toward him and attacked him without warning.

The footage shows the kangaroo striking Bishop with its paws twice before he shouted at the wild animal and it hopped away.

“As it ran toward me I thought it was being friendly so I said, ‘What’s Up, Skip?’” Bishop commented on a YouTube video of the attack. “It then attacked me twice before hopping away.”

Many people who watched the video online commented about the unpredictable behavior of kangaroos.

Epoch Times reporter Richard Szabo contributed to this report.