North America

'World's most dangerous bird': Cassowary attacks, kills its owner in Florida

A cassowary has killed its owner in the US state of Florida. (AAP)

A 75-year-old US man has been killed by his pet cassowary - a giant creature which is considered the world's most dangerous bird.

A cassowary has attacked and killed its 75-year-old owner after the man fell over on his property in Florida.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department told the Gainesville Sun that a cassowary killed the man on Friday on the property near Gainesville, likely using its long claws.

The victim was apparently breeding the birds, state wildlife officials said.

"My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell. When he fell, he was attacked," Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor told the newspaper.

He said first responders got a call on Friday morning and rushed the man to a hospital for trauma care but he later died.

The county sheriff's office identified the victim as Marvin Hajos.

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

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

Cassowaries are large, flightless birds that are native to Australia and New Guinea. They are similar to emus, standing up to 1.8 metres tall and growing to up to 60 kilograms with black body feathers and bright blue heads and necks.

A cassowary at Sydney Wild Life Zoo.
A cassowary at Sydney Wild Life Zoo.

The San Diego Zoo's website calls cassowaries the world's most dangerous bird with a 10-centimetre long, dagger-like claw on each foot.

"The cassowary can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick. Powerful legs help the cassowary run up to 50km/h through the dense forest underbrush," the website reads.

Cassowaries are eaten in parts of Papua New Guinea but in the US but are sought after by collectors of exotic birds.

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

She said the commission lists the cassowary as a type of wildlife that can "pose a danger to people".

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