We were recently a bit casso-worried about Wavy, our beautiful big bird, necessitating a vet check.

With a change in behaviour and some mystery blood spotting, Wavy the Southern Cassowary was given a full health check under general anaesthetic to determine the cause of her ailments. 

During the examination, vets discovered an infected wing claw which was being constantly scraped and grazed. 

While the wing of a cassowary is covered in long black feathers, a short wing bone with a small digit and long claw can be found underneath. The long claw is often hidden from view under the plumage, making it difficult for animal carers to see regularly. 

Perth Zoo’s Acting Senior Veterinarian, Rebecca Vaughan-Higgins, said: “The Southern Cassowary is quite a dangerous animal, so general anaesthetic procedures are a great opportunity for a very thorough health check. 

“During the clinical exam we found the misshapen and infected claw which would likely have been quite uncomfortable for Wavy. 

“We removed the claw and amputated the wing tip to ensure the infection couldn’t cause any further issues down the track. I’m happy to say Wavy made an excellent recovery, with the help of a course of antibiotics and anti-inflammatories carefully hidden in her food.”

Following the procedure, Wavy has been continually monitored by her dedicated keepers to ensure she remains in excellent health.  

Fact file

  • An adult cassowary can weigh up to 75kg and run up 50km/h. 
  • Cassowaries are omnivorous; however, they mostly eat fruit. On occasion, they are known to supplement their diet with insects or small mammals.  
  • The wedge-shaped casque on their head provides protection from low branches and vines when moving through the forest. 
  • Sadly, the Southern Cassowary has been impacted by habitat destruction and cyclones, and there are as few as 2000 mature individuals left in their native rainforest in northern Queensland.