Sunday slide 32

southern cassowary Casuarius casuarius showing indifference
We have returned to the Brevard Zoo in Brevard County, Florida, only to come face-to-face with a southern cassowary (Casuarius casuarius) – not the healthiest thing to do, given the aggressiveness and wicked capabilities of this species. Which almost goes without saying, since this is a native of Australia. It’s kind of an internet meme right now to consider Australia simply brimming with dangerous species, which is largely an exaggeration, though not entirely undeserved. Terry Pratchett also used the idea in one of his Discworld books, back when the internet was still young and naïve, something that we may revisit a bit later on (the Discworld book, not the naïvete of the internet in the past.)

But cassowaries are indeed fairly dangerous, if in part because people really don’t consider birds as something to be cautious around, even if they are huge. Cassowaries have inordinately muscular legs and very sharp talons, and won’t hesitate to use both when they feel it is merited, but it seems that their criteria for this has been more often fostered by human misbehavior than being an inherent trait of the bird. Like that’s something new.

This one, however, was safely within its enclosure, the only one I’ve ever seen; I can say the same for the tapirs and capybaras also photographed on that visit, both striking me as notably mellow species. The cassowary didn’t strike me at all, except in coloration – there was no apparent or perceived personality, just its presence. But they are cool-looking…

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