BIRDS kill a handful of people each year, usually after collisions with cars or aeroplanes while avian flu threatened to develop into an epidemic after crossing over to humans. However, the sub-category of the bird deaths mortality tables (if there is such a thing, and there probably is) of people killed by actual bird attacks is so small as to be virtually unmeasurable. It now seems that the actuaries or whoever measures these things may have to dust off their records, as this week a 75-year-old Florida man was killed by his pet cassowary, an ostrich type creature dubbed The Worlds Most Dangerous Bird (my capitals).
The victim, named as Marvin Hajos, was found in his pet’s enclosure in a pool of blood with deep lacerations caused by the creature. He was still alive but sadly died later in hospital from his wounds. It is believed that the unfortunate Mr Hajos tripped when feeding the cassowary which then attacked him, feeling threatened. They weigh up to 60 kilos and grow to about six feet tall and a spokesman for a local zoo said that they “can slice any predator open with their talons or even kill them with a well-aimed kick”. Despite the somewhat worrying threat of disembowelment or being kicked to death, the only other confirmed cassowary killing was almost a century ago in their native Australia – that of a small boy who was teasing one. This case highlights the fact that whatever you think of the good people of America, they are certainly adept at coming up with original ways to shuffle off this mortal coil.