Authorities believe Marvin Hajos, 75, was breeding cassowaries when he fell and was attacked by the bird.
The large, flightless birds are native to Australia and the island of New Guinea but are sought after by collectors of exotic birds in the United States.
Said by the San Diego Zoo to be the world’s most dangerous birds, cassowaries stand up to 6 feet tall and can weigh up to 130 pounds.
The giant birds have a long, dagger-like claw on each foot.
Cassowaries also have a helmet-like bony structure on top of their heads, which gives the birds added protection in confrontations and makes for a potentially painful head butt.
“The protuberance called the casque, accentuates the air of menace,” said the narrator in a Planet Doc film documentary titled “Cassowary: The most dangerous bird in the world.”
“Their three-toed feet consist of sharp claws, the middle of which grows up to 12.5 centimeters (5 inches) long that they use to pierce animals and humans with a swift, fatal jumping kick,” said the narrator in a documentary titled “World’s Deadliest Bird” on the YouTube channel They Will Kill You.
‘Looks Like It Was Accidental’
The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department told the Gainesville Sun a cassowary probably injured Hajos using its long claws.
The elderly victim was taken to hospital where he later succumbed to his injuries.
“It looks like it was accidental. My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell,” Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor told the newspaper.
“When he fell, he was attacked.”
The county sheriff’s office said an investigation has been launched into the man’s death.
“Initial information indicates that this was a tragic accident for Mr. Hajos,” Brett Rhodenizer, a sheriff’s office spokesman, told the Gainesville Sun. “The cassowary involved remains secured on private property at this time.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requires anyone wishing to own a cassowary to obtain a permit, have “substantial experience,” and have a cage that meets specific requirements.
Florida Fish and Water spokeswoman Karen Parker told the Gainesville Sun the commission believed the man was breeding the birds.
Kangaroo Attacks Paraglider
In related news, a paraglider in Australia was attacked by a kangaroo on March 7, 2019. Luckily, he suffered only minor injuries.
Jonathan Bishop landed near the old Orroral Space Tracking Station, formerly a NASA station built to support satellites in space for the agency’s Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network.
However, moments after he landed, a grey kangaroo quickly hopped toward him and attacked him without warning.
The footage shows the kangaroo striking Bishop with its paws twice before he shouted at the wild animal and it hopped away.
“As it ran toward me I thought it was being friendly so I said, ‘What’s Up, Skip?’” Bishop commented on a YouTube video of the attack. “It then attacked me twice before hopping away.”
Paragliding sounds like fun until you’re greeted by an irate roo.https://t.co/FO1YCCDhnP
— CNET News (@CNETNews) March 10, 2019
Many people who watched the video online commented about the unpredictable behavior of kangaroos.
The Associated Press and Epoch Times reporter Richard Szabo contributed to this report.