The exotic bestiary of a recently deceased Florida man is going on the auction block this weekend, and among the impressive bunch is the animal who killed him. A bird.
Not just any bird, a cassowary, known for their terrifying soigné beauty, barreled chests, gallant heights (they can reach six and a half feet), and propensity for violence. The species is indigenous to Australia and Southeast Asia; authorities were alarmed to have encountered one in Florida.
The New York Times reported on Wednesday that on April 12, 75-year-old Alachua County resident Marvin Hajos died tragically after falling between two cassowary pens and suffering an attack from at least one of the birds, according to the local fire rescue department.
Jeff Taylor, deputy chief of Alachua County Fire Department told the Times, “My understanding is these birds are fairly shy around humans but if they are provoked or they have an opportunity they will be very aggressive … It may be they saw him fall and had an opportunity and decided to attack.” It is also possible that the attacking bird was a female who felt her eggs were under threat.
Although cassowaries are known for their bouts of violent bird rage, they are only rarely known to kill. The last recorded cassowary-induced fatality occurred in April 1926. Bill Grotjahn, who investigated Hajos’s death for the Medical Examiner’s Office, told the Times:
“I’ve been doing this for 18 years and I’ve never had a thing like this … I’ve had them killed by alligators and snakes but never by a bird like that. I know ostriches and emus have their moments, but cassowaries are an extremely, extremely dangerous bird. You don’t want to fool around with them. They have no sense of humor.”
For the right price you too could be stepped on by the daggerlike claws of a beautiful and merciless living dinosaur. Or keep a healthy, survivable distance. Up to you!