Man attacked and killed in Florida by large flightless bird

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It is unclear if the man was the owner of the property or an employee.

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.

"My understanding is that the gentleman was in the vicinity of the bird and at some point fell", he said.

A cassowary, a giant bird with long claws on each foot, killed its owner after he fell in the backyard of his Gainesville, Florida, home, officials told CNN.

The man, whose name was not released, had sustained "serious injuries" and was transported to a local hospital, said Alachua County Fire Rescue Deputy Chief Jeff Taylor in an email.

Marvin Hajos died from injuries suffered in the freakish attack by a cassowary, a flightless fowl with knife-like claws that can stand up to 6 feet tall and weigh more than 100 pounds, according to officials.

Lieutenant Brett Rhodenizer with the Alachua County Sheriff's Office says at this time, it seems the attack was "a tragic accident".

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Cassowaries are similar to emus and stand up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall and weigh up to 130 pounds (60 kilograms), with black body feathers and distinctive, bright blue heads and necks.

According to initial reports, the man was breeding the birds, which are usually found in Australia and New Guinea.

A cassowary at Sydney Wild Life Zoo.

Cassowarys are not traded for meat in the U.S. but are kept by some collectors.

"The cassowary can slice open any predator or potential threat with a single swift kick", states information from the San Diego Zoo.

"Substantial experience and specific cage requirements must be met" for a permit to be issued for handling these types of animals, FWC spokeswoman Karen Parker said.