DENVER (CBS4) – No one was hurt but there was a brief scare at the Denver Zoo Friday afternoon when a large flightless bird escaped from its exhibit.

The bird, a double-wattled cassowary, managed to run up against the fencing of its exhibit and squeeze through.

When they got word of the escape, administrators closed off the zoo to visitors and moved some zoogoers into enclosed areas so they wouldn’t be at risk. Cassowaries can be aggressive.

Sometime later the bird was located near its exhibit hiding in some brush. Zoo staff then used some fencing to herd the animal into an enclosure.

0715111423a Cassowary Escapes From Exhibit At Denver Zoo

Inside the Denver Zoo Friday afternoon while it wasn't accepting new visitors after one of the animals escaped (credit: CBS)

There are only two cassowaries at the Denver Zoo, an adult male and an adult female. Their exhibit is in an outdoor area near the bird house. The female didn’t escape along with the male.

Once he was placed back in his exhibit staff moved him to a back area where he won’t be visible to the public. The exhibit was also closed for the day.

The zoo was reopened to visitors after 3 p.m.

According to its description on the Denver Zoo’s website, a double-wattled cassowary, also known as the southern cassowary, has “strong legs have three toes with sharp claws.” Adults are about 6 feet tall and they can run as fast as 30 mph. They are also good swimmers and jumpers.

“They will occasionally attack humans using their powerful legs to lash out with their large claws,” the description on the zoo’s website reads.

The bird comes from the Australian region. In addition to northern Australia, it is a native of New Guinea and some of the eastern island groups of Indonesia.

The last time the zoo had to close to because of a situation with an animal was in 2007, when a jaguar attacked and killed a zoo worker.

Ashlee Pfaff, 27, was killed when a 140-pound jaguar pounced on her in an employee access hallway. Federal safety officials cited the Denver Zoo for alleged unsafe working conditions in that incident.

Comments (7)
  1. Zoo Lover says:

    The zoo was evacuated. We were there. We were told it was a large animal with an attitude and we were rushed out. We were given our money back and told to come another day.

  2. Fanny Forbes Franklen says:

    Zoos are prisons for animals that never committed a crime and are on display for degenerates that think it’s OK to lock up animals for their pleasure. Zoos will eventually be viewed as an obvious sign of decrepitude of the mental deficient that so overpopulate modern society.


    1. AJ says:

      Sorry but there have been zoos since the beginning of time. They’re not going away anytime soon.

  3. Marilyn H says:

    Take a load off, Fanny, you are wound up a bit tight. Zoos offer sanctuary to animals from 3rd world countries where the locals might kill a critter just for an aphrodisiac horn, or some such.

  4. Danny Keel says:

    Zoos, among other things, are sanctuaries for animals that are otherwise in danger due to the ever expanding presence of humans in the natural world. There are numerous species of animals that have benefited from both release programs and insights gleaned from captive populations.

    Some species, the Micronesian Kingfisher for example, are extinct in the wild, yet have individuals thriving in zoos with the future plan of reintroduction.

    There have been problems in the past where zoos negatively affected the natural world. Toady however, zoos adhere to a careful population management system that keeps healthy bloodlines of endangered species intact, and, in some cases, ready for release back into the wild.

  5. R N says:

    Zoos are NOT a wildlife Sanctuary. Fanny is correct. They are Prisons.
    If you want to create animal sanctuaries, then you would have to follow the model set up in San Diego, of a ‘drive-thru’ zoo. You cannot keep animals like elephants locked in tiny cages. Most animals need society of its own kind, and freedom to move.
    If a city/ town cannot provide that, then they should not have a zoo at all.

  6. OregonPhil says:

    This just in….Denver homeless shelter feeds hundreds on donated chicken and dumplings…

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