Nicole Paquette, vice president of Wildlife Protection, issued the below statement:
Florida has the worst record in the country of incidents involving several dangerous species, such as big cats and primates, based on data collected by the Humane Society of the United States, and it can now add cassowaries to the list. The tragic death of a Florida man by a cassowary underscores the hazards associated with keeping dangerous wild animals. At professionally operated zoos, cassowaries are handled using protected contact—a safe handling method where fences or other barriers separate keepers from dangerous animals—due to the birds’ aggressive nature and potential to cause significant injury or even death.
Yet at roadside zoos and private menageries, cassowaries are often kept with inadequate safety barriers, posing the risk of potential contact with the public. Cassowaries have dagger-like claws with nearly five-inch nails capable of inflicting lacerations and puncture wounds, and rupturing internal organs. Cassowaries clearly belong in Florida’s Class I category of species “that pose a significant danger to people” and we urge the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to update its standards.