ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. - A dagger-clawed, large, flightless bird fatally attacked its fallen owner Friday at a Florida farm.
Marvin Hajos, 75, was killed by a cassowary after apparently falling, Alachua County Fire Rescue told the Gainesville Sun.
“It looks like it was accidental,” Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor told the Sun. “My understanding is that (Hajos) was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked.”
Cassowaries, like emus are about 6 feet tall. The endangered bird is native to Australia and New Guinea. It is believed their population is about 4,000, according to the Australian government.
It is considered one of the most dangerous birds on the planet.
“The cassowary can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick,” the San Diego Zoo said in its description of the animal. “Powerful legs help the cassowary run up to 31 mph through the dense forest underbrush.”
The man was breeding cassowaries at his Florida farm, state wildlife officials said. The bird was taken to a private location after the incident. It is unclear what will ultimately happen to it.
Florida state wildlife officials say the cassowary can “pose a danger to people.”
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 Sun.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.