Science & Environment

Flaco, Owl Who Escaped From New York City Zoo, Dies

Flaco, an owl who turned a New York City icon after he flew the coop on the Central Park Zoo final yr, has died.

“We are saddened to report that Flaco, the Eurasian eagle owl discovered missing from the Central Park Zoo after his exhibit was vandalized just over a year ago, is dead after an apparent collision with a building on West 89th Street in Manhattan,” the Wildlife Conservation Society, a nonprofit that manages the zoo, said in a press release Friday.

An undated picture exhibits Flaco the owl surveying New York City.

Sheryl Checkman / 500px through Getty Images

Flaco appeared to have collided with a window, according to the Wild Bird Fund, a wildlife rehabilitation heart that tried to avoid wasting the owl after the accident.

“We hoped only to see Flaco hooting wildly from the top of our local water tower, never in the clinic,” the nonprofit wrote.

Millions of birds are estimated to die yearly by crashing into reflective glass home windows ― a motive that environmental teams advocate for utilizing bird-safe glass or taking other steps to discourage collisions.

In Flaco’s case, the Wild Bird Fund famous that it’s not but clear whether or not he was additionally affected by the results of rodenticide, which may construct up within the our bodies of predators that eat poisoned mice and rats. In 2021, a feminine owl named Barry was hit by a van in Central Park and was later discovered to have high levels of rat poison in her system, which possible impaired her potential to fly.

Flaco left his zoo enclosure behind on Feb. 2 of final yr, after a still-unidentified person minimize the mesh that had prevented him from flying away.

Flaco is pictured in a Central Park tree last year in New York City.
Flaco is pictured in a Central Park tree final yr in New York City.

Andrew Lichtenstein through Getty Images

The owl had been born in captivity and arrived on the zoo as a fledgling. He remained there for 13 years earlier than escaping and taking over residence within the surrounding timber of Central Park.

Since he had by no means lived within the wild, his escape was instantly adopted by considerations that he can be unable to hunt and will starve to demise. But because the zoo despatched out groups trying to seize Flaco, the owl was noticed efficiently catching and eating prey.

Flaco’s star was already on the rise, and public opinion started to skew towards a want to let him stay free. The fowl’s fame was fueled by David Barrett, who runs the favored birding account Manhattan Bird Alert on X and would frequently submit photographs of Flaco, in addition to data associated to his whereabouts.

Some others within the birding neighborhood argued that permitting a captive-raised, non-native animal to dwell free was irresponsible, warning that Flaco was possible not cut out for all times on his own within the metropolis and expressing considerations about possible impacts on native species.

Nevertheless, Flaco shortly turned an area movie star, with New Yorkers gleefully reporting sightings and sharing photographs of the majestic fowl of prey in Central Park and, when he started to fly farther afield, among the buildings of Manhattan.

Flaco is shown in Central Park on Feb. 15, 2023, in New York City.
Flaco is proven in Central Park on Feb. 15, 2023, in New York City.

Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis through Getty Images

New Yorkers and different devotees mourned his loss, sharing their favourite photographs and recollections of Flaco on social media.

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