A cassowary, an emu-like creature often described as the “world’s most dangerous bird,” attacked and killed its 75-year-old owner on a farm in Florida, authorities said on Saturday.
The bird’s owner, identified as Marvin Hajos, is believed to have fallen down on his property near the city of Alachua on Friday morning when the cassowary — a large, flightless bird with “dagger-like” claws — fatally attacked him, The Gainesville Sun reported.
“Initial information indicates that this was a tragic accident for Mr. Hajos,” a spokesman for the Alachua County sheriff’s office told the paper.
Hajos may have been breeding cassowaries. “He was doing what he loved” when he died, a woman who identified herself as Hajos’ fiancée told the newspaper.
The bird “remains secured on private property at this time,” officials told the Sun.
ASSOCIATED PRESS In this file photo, a cassowary roams in the Daintree National Forest, Australia.
Cassowaries, which are native to Australia and New Guinea, are the world’s “most dangerous” bird ― and also one of the largest, according to the San Diego Zoo’s website.
Cassowaries can stand at almost six feet tall and weigh up to 120 pounds. With its sharp claws, the cassowary “can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick,” according to the zoo. “Powerful legs help the cassowary run up to 31 miles per hour… A cassowary can also jump nearly 7 feet straight up into the air and swim like a champ, so the bird is quite good at fending off threats or escaping danger.”
Despite the dangers they can pose, cassowaries are sought out by some exotic animal collectors, The Associated Press said.
There are three species of cassowary: the southern, northern and dwarf. The southern cassowary is the largest and most well-known, the San Diego Zoo says.
It’s unclear which species of cassowary attacked the Florida man.