Large exotic bird kills Florida man

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ALACHUA COUNTY, Fla. (WCJB) -- An Alachua man is dead after he was attacked by an exotic bird he was keeping on his property.

Alachua County sheriff's deputies say the 75-year-old was breeding the rare birds.

The bird is called Cassowary, it's large and similar to an Ostrich or Emu and sometimes called "the most dangerous bird in the world."

75-year-old Marvin Hajos from Alachua had two along with a variety of other exotic animals on his property.

According to reports, it all started with an unusual call for the Alachua County deputies Friday morning, says Lieutenant Joshua Crews of the Alachua County Sherriff's office.

EMS responded to an incident where the caller gave information that an exotic bird had attacked somebody on the property.

"I didn't know there were many in private hands, just shocking you know," said Andrew Kratter, who manages the bird collection at the Florida Museum of Natural History. "I've heard that they're dangerous but I always thought it was almost an urban myth that they were capable of killing a person."

The birds were corralled before deputies arrived, but Hajos died from his injuries later at the hospital.

"Cassowaries are native to Australia and Papua New Guinea and as somebody who actually lived in the Eastern Highlands of Papua New Guinea for ten years as a child I can tell you from first-hand experience that we were always told there are two animals that you simply do not mess with because of their violent and aggressive nature. The first is a Wild Boar and the second is a Cassowary," said TV20's reporter Landon Harrar, who lived in Papua New Guinea.

"Apparently they can be pretty aggressive if they feel threatened and they have this nasty toe that they can kick with and as you can see it's a fairly fearsome weapon for them," Kratter added.

"They have very strong legs, kick defense, claws that can literally gut you because they can jump over 4 feet in the air and that can hit anybody in the mid-section," said Christine Janks, an animal conservationist and educator for Carson Springs Wildlife Conservation Foundation.

As to what will happen to the birds?

"Right now, I think it's going to be up to the people that end up taking the property, so family members and what they do with that. What they do with the bird is going to be ultimately their decision," said, Lieutenant Crews.

FWC says the birds are permitted for breeding through the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

The Cassowary can grow to over six feet tall and weigh up to 130 lbs and their claws can grow up to 5 inches long.

Read the original version of this article at wcjb.com.