Deputies: Keeper killed by bird was likely retrieving egg

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Alachua County Sheriffs Office investigators said what happened Friday is a tragic loss for Marvin Hajos’ family.  

On Friday, Hajos was killed by an exotic bird, known as a Cassowary.  A close and long-time friend of the victim says  Hajos started working with birds at The Bronx Zoo as a child, 65 years ago.  

"He was doing this, because he truly loved animals,” said Jim Glynn. “We’ve been getting calls from quite literally around the world.  People who knew Marvin for his passion for preserving this species.” 

The Cassowary is known as one of the deadliest birds in the world, for their swift, often fatal jumping kick and large razor sharp talons.  

“These birds can unfortunately be very savage,” Glynn said.  

Deputies say Hajos is licensed for the two breeding pairs of Cassowaries he has been keeping on his property.  He was tending to them when he got attacked.

One of the females recently laid an egg, the males typical try to smash those eggs.  It is believed that Hajos tried to retrieve the eggs and put them in an incubator, before the attack.

“We believe he went in there to recover that egg and then at some point the bird was able to make its attack,” said Lt. Brett Rhodenizer, with the Sheriff's Office.

Glynn said its breeding season and the males are particularly aggressive right now.  

“He was aware of the dangers of these animals. He would not allow anyone else to be exposed to them. He was a knowledgeable guy,” said Glynn.

Immediately after the attack, he says Hajos called his daughter who did her best to save him.  It is hard for the family, because they knew how much he loved his birds.  Glynn said Hajos developed a love for birds at a young age.  When Hajos was just 10 years old, he started volunteering behind the scenes with the staff at The Bronx Zoo to learn all about birds.  Glynn says Hajos was frequently called on to speak at colleges and universities to talk about the birds he’s worked with, particularly the Cassowary bird.  

Hajos was laid to rest Monday.  Glynn said the family does not plan on keeping the Cassowary birds. They have been in touch with a few different facilities, looking for a place that is equip to care for them properly.   

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