'World’s deadliest bird' kills owner after fall

A large, flightless bird killed its owner when it attacked him after he fell, authorities in Florida have said.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department said a cassowary killed the man on his property near Gainesville, apparently using its long claws.

Cassowary birds
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Cassowary birds
Close-Up Portrait Of Cassowary
Southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius), also known as the double-wattled cassowary.
Southern cassowary headshot, Daintree National Park, Queensland
Portrait of an endangered Southern Cassowsary, it is a flightless bird. Queensland, Australia
vector cassowary in jungle rainforest
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Eyes of Cassowary Bird
southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius)
A Southern cassowary on the beach where it was searching for food, berries mostly.
A pair of endangered Southern Cassowsary on a gravel path, it is a flightless bird. Queensland, Australia
A man holds a large green egg of the cassowary bird near the Upper Sepik River in Papua New Guinea.
The cassowaries are ratites in the genus Casuarius and are native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, nearby islands, and northeastern Australia. There are three extant species.
Cassowaries, genus Casuarius, are ratites that are native to the tropical forests of New Guinea, nearby islands, and northeastern Australia. There are three extant species. The most common of these, the southern cassowary, is the third-tallest and second-heaviest living bird, smaller only than the ostrich and emu.

The victim, 75-year-old Marvin Hajos, was breeding the birds, which are native to Australia and New Guinea.

Deputy chief Jeff Taylor said: "It looks like it was accidental. My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell.

"When he fell, he was attacked."

"Initial information indicates that this was a tragic accident for Mr Hajos," said Lieutenant Brett Rhodenizer, a sheriff's office spokesman.

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

Cassowaries are similar to emus and reach up to 6ft in height and weigh up to 60kg.

They have black body feathers and bright blue heads and necks.

The San Diego Zoo website calls cassowaries the world's most dangerous bird, with a 4in dagger-like claw on each foot.

"The cassowary can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick," the website says.

"Powerful legs help the cassowary run up to 31mph through the dense forest underbrush."

Cassowaries are not raised for food in the US but are sought after by collectors.

To get the mandatory permit, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requires cassowary owners to have "substantial experience" and meet specific cage requirements, spokeswoman Karen Parker said.

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