Equipped with vicious talons, the cassowary is capable of deadly attacks on other animals, including humans.
At the Birmingham Zoo, visitors can get up close to this beast of a bird—and even pet it. Considered by many to be the most dangerous bird, the cassowary is the second heaviest and third tallest.
The enclosure, which matches the safety standards required of lions and elephants, begs the question: Just how dangerous is the cassowary?
“They have a very, very powerful kick, and you can see those claws. They have a really long claw on one of their toes on each of the feet and that can really do some damage if it needs to,” says Birmingham Zoo employee Jesse Daniel.
Daredevils down for some excitement can arrange a personal tour of the bird with the opportunity to feed and pet it.
But not to worry, it’s crate-trained. In fact, it’s the first cassowary to have accomplished such a feat in the U.S.
“He goes into the crate and there’s all sorts of different doors that open up at different levels: one that opens at his wing level, one that opens at this head, one that opens at his leg level,” explains Daniel.
While not endangered, cassowaries are threatened by traffic in their native habitats in northern Australia and New Guinea. In an effort to protect them, the Birmingham Zoo is sending a team to the land down under to conduct research and prevention studies.
“(We'll be) looking at road strikes and making sure these guys stay safe on the roadways,” says Daniel.
Daniel says while cassowaries are dangerous, the zoo's enclosure for the experience is safe and available only for a few more weeks.