Huge flightless exotic bird attacks, kills owner on farm

Cassowary attack:

75-year-old Florida man attacked and killed by a dangerous bird he kept as a pet

A 75-year-old Florida man was attacked and killed by a giant exotic bird called a cassowary that the man kept on his property in Alachua.

Cassowaries typically live in the rainforest in New Guinea and some parts of Australia. It's known for its unusual, distinctive headgear, known as a casque, and for its deadly kick, which earned it the title of "most risky bird in the world".

Hajos was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died, the lieutenant said.

Alachua County sheriff's deputies said the bird's owner, Marvin Hajos, 75, was breeding the rare birds, which are native to New Guinea and Australia and considered the "world's most risky birds", WCJB reported.

Reports suggest the man fell, possibly while feeding the animal, and the startled bird attacked as a result. The newspaper reports that the bird involved in the fatal attack remains on private property, but that it is not known what will happen to it. The flightless birds have a four-inch claw on each foot, which earned them the recognition of "world's most risky bird" from the San Diego Zoo. It can slice open its predators with a swift kick, according to the San Diego Zoo website.

The creatures can jump nearly 7 feet into the air, "so the bird is quite good at fending off threats or escaping danger", the zoo states.

They can grow more than 5 feet tall and the heaviest females can weigh more than 160 pounds, the zoo says. Powerful legs also help the cassowary run up to 31 miles per hour through the dense forest underbrush.

"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. "Substantial experience and specific cage requirements" must be met in the state to own one of the exotic birds. The birds are not raised for food in the US, but are sought after by collectors of exotic birds, according to authorities.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission categorises the cassowary as a Class II species which can "pose a danger to people".

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