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Southern cassowary

Casuarius casuarius

Male Southern cassowary at Paignton Zoo
IUCN Conservation Status –
Least Concern
Extinct In The Wild
Class: Birds
Order: Casuariiformes
Family: Casuariidae

Paignton Zoo is home to two southern cassowaries: female Twiggy and male Madrid.

This species of cassowary inhabits rainforests in New Guinea and Queensland, Australia.

Despite their formidable look, these birds are mainly herbivores, preferring to eat fruits. They also consume small insects and vertebrates.

Interesting facts!

  • The cassowary is the second largest bird on the planet today after the ostrich. Females are usually bigger and heavier than males.
  • Due to its size, this bird is flightless but it has extremely powerful legs and claw-like feet. It can both run and swim very well.
  • A cassowary’s booming sound is the lowest known call of any bird – it sits right at the border of human hearing!
  • After mating, the female will lay three to five green eggs. However in the cassowary world, it’s the male bird only that incubates the eggs and rears the young.


The destruction of rainforest habitat for development and agriculture is the most serious threat to the southern cassowary population in the wild.

Our cassowaries are involved in the European Studbook programme for the species and we hope to breed the pair successfully in the future.