It was a total accident
April 25, 2019 12:37 PM   Subscribe

“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.” A Giant Bird Killed Its Owner. Now It Could Be Yours. [NYT]
posted by Mchelly (37 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
 
I would argue that, in fact, the cassowary is not a giant bird, but that most other birds are "tiny birds". If you have a problem with that, I suggest you take it up with the very appropriately sized cassowary directly.
posted by Etrigan at 12:47 PM on April 25 [51 favorites]


Their website doesn't seem to use the same wording, but I'm pretty sure the text on the cassowary exhibit at the Denver Zoo said that they're badass murderbirds. One of their bird keepers said that "they remind me of velociraptors," which sounds awesome and also not like a bird I would like to host in my home.

In conclusion, here are 10 facts about cassowaries.
posted by asperity at 12:56 PM on April 25 [10 favorites]


I went to Australia once, went for a little walk in the woods, and encountered a cassowary right in front of us on the trail. They are simultaneously ridiculous and terrifying, primarily just terrifying.

The whole Jurassic Park franchise is a touch unnecessary when these murderbirds are real and we walk among them.
posted by zachlipton at 1:01 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


The whole Jurassic Park franchise is a touch unnecessary when these murderbirds are real and we walk among them.

"Cassowary Park" is just not going to be believable as an attraction where Richard Attenborough spared no expense, though.
posted by nubs at 1:08 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


My partner has already vetoed a quick trip to Florida and in fact any cassowary acquisition. I did point out that our home is only zoned for no chickens, not large flightless murder birds, but he was unswayed.
posted by lepus at 1:09 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


Heh, I just went on a trip to Australia and learned how the locals created some humor by drawng on a road sign. This warning sign was supposed to be a visual representation of both a cassowary and a speedbump, but someone drew in "Before" and "After," as well as some bird details in the upper part.
posted by Melismata at 1:11 PM on April 25 [8 favorites]


we walk among them

I mean, you do you. Personally, I stay the hell away from murderbirds. Jurassic Park would've been a much shorter movie if the island had been populated by cassowaries. I'll just note that you can get emu burgers and ostrich burgers, but try finding a cassowary burger.
posted by sysinfo at 1:12 PM on April 25 [7 favorites]


My freshman year in college I was in the same dorm as Timothy "Speed" Levitch; he and his roommate hung a sign on their door that proclaimed that their room was being guarded by "the cassowary of death".

At the time we chalked it up to it being a sign of Speed's....well, Speed-ness. Now I'm thinking they knew something we didn't.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:20 PM on April 25 [3 favorites]


Johnny Cash was almost killed by a murderbird, and that was only an emu!
posted by rikschell at 1:47 PM on April 25


Emus ain't nothing to fuck with. Australia started a war with them...and lost.
posted by zombieflanders at 1:48 PM on April 25 [11 favorites]


I recall reading somewhere that the first humans in Florida were greeted by 7 foot birds that resembled giant axes on two legs because of their huge beaks and how they apparently used them, and I saw a reference I've never been able to locate again to a Polynesian myth about a particular island that featured giant blocks of pumice which were said to be the aftermath of Pele's campaign to rid the island of its population of huge and terrifying flightless predatory birds.
posted by jamjam at 1:55 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


I'll just note that you can get emu burgers and ostrich burgers, but try finding a cassowary burger.

Cassowary casserole!
posted by mochapickle at 2:33 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I am not a fan of people who keep exotic animals. They are almost invariably big, dangerous critters and it all just reeks of fragile masculinity somehow. I imagine there are exceptions, but...
posted by maxwelton at 2:48 PM on April 25 [20 favorites]


Cassowary Park

Please, Aviary of Doom
posted by ckape at 3:06 PM on April 25


I am not a fan of people who keep exotic animals. They are almost invariably big, dangerous critters and it all just reeks of fragile masculinity somehow. I imagine there are exceptions, but...

The main exception I allow for is Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who adopted an emu because it had become strongly attached to a donkey while they were penned together before being rescued from an abandoned farm by an animal sanctuary, and basically no one who's not a celebrity operating a vanity farm would be capable of happily accommodating a pairing like that.
posted by Copronymus at 3:21 PM on April 25 [10 favorites]


These auctioneers apparently intend to give this thing and the deceased's other exotic animals to any clown who has the cash, and they forbid video of the event. I feel like this is...not super great.
posted by bagel at 3:28 PM on April 25 [10 favorites]


These auctioneers apparently intend to give this thing and the deceased's other exotic animals to any clown who has the cash, and they forbid video of the event. I feel like this is...not super great.

This is an awesome supervillain sting is what it is

Maybe we can FOIA the video in thirty years
posted by schadenfrau at 3:52 PM on April 25 [5 favorites]


I am also in favor of Jeffrey Dean Morgan's emu/donkey habitat and greatly appreciate that link. But: Morgan promised to send regularly updates on how Jack and Diane are adjusting.

... time to find these updates. Eggs, apparently. Maybe there are more photos somewhere?
posted by asperity at 3:53 PM on April 25 [2 favorites]


This is how a horror movie starts:

Wild cassowary chases girl on beach

“If you encounter a wild cassowary you have to 1. Look him in the eyes 2. Back away and 3. Hold something in front of you. Luckily for us the thing in our hand was a GoPro so when a wild cassowary charged over we caught it on film.”
posted by Doktor Zed at 3:55 PM on April 25 [9 favorites]


This whole story is indicative of why people should not be allowed to keep exotic animals.

I am not a fan of people who keep exotic animals. They are almost invariably big, dangerous critters and it all just reeks of fragile masculinity somehow.

Exactly.
posted by schroedinger at 4:10 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


I am not a fan of people who keep exotic animals.

You know, here in Australia, it's illegal to keep cassowaries as pets. This is because Australia, like most other western democracies, has an at-least semi-fuctional regulatory framework that tries to minimise animal cruelty and human stupidity.

Barring extraordinary circumstances, anyone that keeps wild animals as pets is irresponsible, thoughtless, selfish and helps to prop up a global network that is based around smuggling, money laundering, and animal cruelty (it's also illegal to take cassowaries and their eggs out of the country unless you're a real zoo, so...).

It super pisses me off how normalised this is in the US. It's deeply problematic, and not just for cassowaries and tigers and shit like that either.
posted by smoke at 4:57 PM on April 25 [29 favorites]


MetaFilter: You don’t want to fool around with them. They have no sense of humor.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:54 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


When hunting on the Arctic tundra, sometimes one comes unknowingly close to the ground nests (no trees, yo!, all the birds up there near on the ground) of a bird called a Jaeger.

These nasty, parasitic bastards probably weigh all of two pounds. But they are fiercely aggressive and will attack humans on foot or on ATVs by screeching and dive-bombing your head with full force. It’s terrifying and sometimes very painful but you have to keep going.

If they were three or four pounds heavier they’d be murder birds for sure.
posted by spitbull at 7:39 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


Speaking of murderbirds, have you read Seanan McGuire's real-life tale of Gus the Emu?
posted by polymath at 7:45 PM on April 25 [4 favorites]


1. Cassowaries are living dinosaurs and terrifying.

2. I don’t understand how people came to live in Australia when God so clearly did everything they could to fill the continent with human killing animals and other assorted hostile conditions.

3. Who made this one person the world’s authority on Cassowary humor? Cassowaries are quite witty, downright hysterical at times. I went to a Kyle Kinane show in Brisbane and there was a whole row of Cassowaries in the back doubled over the whole time.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 8:01 PM on April 25 [6 favorites]


It super pisses me off how normalised this is in the US.

"Normalised" feels like it's pushing it a little bit...

It's crazy what you can get in terms of exotic animals if you want to, though - no argument there.
posted by atoxyl at 10:48 PM on April 25 [1 favorite]


I knew someone who had an emu farm, which I visited once. I fed them grapes. You do have to be very careful and slow moving around them. I'm not sure what he did with them, though I know he ate their eggs for breakfast (they are huge!).

I know he didn't grow them for food because he told me the story about how one injured its leg. He figured it is kind of like a lame horse--the right thing to do is to put it down because it will have a life of pain otherwise.

So he drove to town and took it to the town butcher, who agreed to put it down in exchange for the meat. Some weeks later he was driving in town and saw the emu's head looking over the butcher's fence. He went in and asked about it. "Actually he seems to be doing okay. He doesn't seem to be in pain." "Why did you decide not to put him down?"

"Well...you see, the emu can see over the fence, so some neighborhood kids saw him, then more kids, then their families. And they all kind of decided they liked the emu. It got to the point where if I put him down the whole town would turn against me."
posted by eye of newt at 1:37 AM on April 26 [7 favorites]


Yah there was a fad (and a I think a proliferation of pyramid schemes) for raising Emus back in the 80s and 90s, especially in the western US. I regret to report that the main use I saw back then was not for meat or eggs but as a hide for exotic leather goods. Many people became Emu ranchers who’d never so much as kept chickens. It did not work out well.

I suspect any sort of confinement and domestication is a life of pain for such an animal.
posted by spitbull at 3:32 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


Anyone who has played Far Cry knows to stay away from cassowaries. Among the worst (if not THE worst) animal you can accidentally run across.
posted by achrise at 5:14 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Wow! Gopro woman of the wild cassowary video has icewater in her veins whereas Dan of the wild cassowary video is about the most useless POS ever recorded on gopro!

Gopro woman is backing like a champ and keeping the gopro extended before her as repeatedly instructed by Dan, who has flushed the murderbird out of the trees and onto the beach at her. She says, "what do I do?" "Help me." "Help." "Can you distract him?" "Walk with me?" To all this Dan says only "back away." He is dancing about in the deep background picking up little sticks and dropping them.

No, gopro woman. Dan will not walk with you. You and your cassowary walk alone.
posted by Don Pepino at 8:12 AM on April 26 [4 favorites]


"The auction is set to take place noon Saturday [tomorrow!] at 3856 S.R. 53 South in Madison, less than a 30-minute drive from the Georgia border."

Above, we see The Gainesville Sun valiantly wading in to fend off Florida Man jibes with a distancing maneuver. "Look, it's only 30 minutes from Georgia. This is basically all happening in Georgia." But then they undo that good work because unlike the snobbity NYTimes they cannot resist quoting in full when Florida Man spreads himself on Facebook:

“Anyone seen video taping in any capacity will be deemed trespassing and will be escorted out by security,” the post warned. “Your video equipment may or may not be confiscated until all video recordings are distroyed (sic). Please do not comprise (sic) our position.”

Pleeeease somebody gopro this bullshit...
posted by Don Pepino at 8:38 AM on April 26


I'm sorry the guy died but he should have known the risk he was dealing with. That said, if I was in his shoes, my last words definitely would have been "Clever girl.""
posted by allkindsoftime at 9:47 AM on April 26 [1 favorite]


Emus ain't nothing to fuck with.

After a lavish Thanksgiving meal at the opulent home of some well-to-do Northern Californians (friends of a friend), I went for a postprandial stroll on their estate. It was a dewy, gauzy late-afternoon, peaceful and relaxing, until there was this weird thumping noise and a bunch of fucking emus ran up, seemingly out of nowhere.

I didn't at first realize there was a fence between us, and I'm pretty sure that's the closest I've ever come to literally shitting my pants in fright.
posted by aspersioncast at 10:02 AM on April 26 [3 favorites]


Isn't there a rule about putting down animals that kill humans?
posted by ZeusHumms at 10:53 AM on April 26


Yeah. The rule is, You fuckin’ do it. I’m staying way the hell over here.
posted by Etrigan at 11:52 AM on April 26 [2 favorites]


You have to wonder about the sort of mindset that decided it was a good idea to go into a pen with creatures armed with four of these, and *try to take their eggs*
posted by tavella at 12:16 PM on April 26


These nasty, parasitic bastards [jaegers] probably weigh all of two pounds. But they are fiercely aggressive and will attack humans on foot

Ah, yes. The standard UK English name for them is arctic skua. When I met them, they were called bonxies, and it was towards the end of a long, fulfilling day on Hoy, the only island in Orkney that has hills. Me and my brother had walked 12 miles or so, seen and climbed in the Dwarfie Stane, a neolithic tomb carved out of a freestanding piece of rock approximately the size of a humvee and slightly lower, then walked on to the coast and seen the Old Man of Hoy, a 140m high sea stack adjacent to equally high cliffs.

And we were walking back from there to the ferry on the other side of the island across dry spongy moorland with deep tufts of thick soft grass. We were in the middle, hundreds of metres from any shelter or safe ground, and the bonxies attacked. They were divebombing, close to us. And whenever we were worried about being hit, we just dived to the ground which was soft and comfortable and a little hard to tear yourself back out of.

They were just angry for the show of it, though, because if they'd wanted to hit us, they would've. At the edge of that moorland, there was a lochan with peat banks, and there was a red throated diver swimming in it, looking shiny and smooth like it was the world's finest piece of lacquerwork, but alive.

We went down from there to the only pub in the north of the island. It was a melamine tables and cans affair, with maybe one cask of heavy on draft. I had a can of Guinness, but I was so knackered from the day that not far into that pint I knocked it over and had to wipe up the smelly mess with some bar towels that I quickly fetched. Some time during the transport of towels to and from the bar, I realised that at the next table, definitely close enough to be annoyed by the scruffy 17 year old on the next table, was local man and at the time greatest living British composer, Sir Peter Maxwell Davies. He didn't say anything.

And then we strolled from the pub to the pier, and the ferryman said that he did have space for us on his last crossing back to Mainland of the evening.
posted by ambrosen at 1:47 PM on April 26 [10 favorites]


« Older Funny or Not Funny   |   The question we came to dread Newer »


You are not currently logged in. Log in or create a new account to post comments.