A 75-year-old man in Florida has died after he was attacked by his pet cassowary when he fell over ‘in the vicinity of the bird’.
Paramedics took the man, named Marvin Hajos, to hospital but he sadly died from his injuries.
Police are investigating the death, though they have said the initial information given suggest it was a ‘tragic accident’.
The man was reportedly attacked by his pet cassowary – a large, flightless bird that can run at speeds up to 30mph (50km/h), and has large claws on each foot.
The incident happened in the city of Alachua, in northern Florida.
Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor told the Gainesville Sun newspaper, via BBC News:
My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked.
While Marvin’s partner said he died doing what he loved. The 75-year-old was known for keeping exotic animals, including llamas, and had done so for decades.
Cassowaries are known as the world’s most dangerous bird thanks to their huge claws and speed, meaning they can severely injure any predator or potential threat with a single kick. They are similar in appearance to emus, and are one of the world’s heaviest birds too, weighing in at more than 100 pounds (45kg).
Owners must have a permit to keep a cassowary, as well as proving ‘substantial experience and cage requirements’, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, via the New York Post.
The birds are not used for food but are sought after by collectors of exotic animals.
Police have said the bird remains at the man’s property for the time being.
Cassowaries are native to Papua New Guinea and Australia, they are usually very wary of humans but can attack – occasionally fatally – if provoked.
According to San Diego Zoo, the cassowary has a three-toed foot, with a dagger-like claw on the inner toe that grows to around four inches (10 cm). They say the bird ‘can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick.’
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Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.