Flaco is a free bird. Zoo staff has abandoned their attempts to recapture the Eurasian Eagle owl that has dazzled birdwatchers in Central Park for more than two weeks, after being busted out of his enclosure inside the zoo and spending his first night on the lam looking confused on an Upper East Side sidewalk.
“Efforts at recovering the bird have proven more difficult since he has been very successful at hunting and consuming the abundant prey in the park,” the Central Park Zoo said in a statement last Friday announcing staff would be dialing back their attempts to capture the bird of prey which boasts a six-foot wingspan.
“Central Park Zoo staff attempted to lure Flaco, the Eurasian eagle owl, with bait and recordings of eagle owl calls,” the Zoo said Friday, “Though he showed some interest in the calls, the attempt was unsuccessful.”
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Zoo workers discovered the Eurasian Eagle owl was missing from its enclosure around 8:30 pm back on Thursday, February 2nd. Flaco’s exhibit, built into side of the penguin house, had been vandalized and the stainless steel mesh cut, giving the rare raptor an opportunity to get away.
The NYPD says there are no updates on the investigation at this point, adding to the mystery of this ‘hoo-dunit.’
Hours after his escape, Flaco was spotted hanging out on the sidewalk outside of the Citibank at 785 Fifth Avenue, at the corner of East 60th Street on the Upper East Side.
Since then, Flaco has made himself comfortable inside Central Park as its newest apex predator, to the delight of birders who have seen him quickly adapt to his new surroundings and show off from time-to-time — hooting for his adoring crowd of fans.
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Central Park Zoo staff says Flaco’s flight skills have improved and he’s been successfully hunting rats for food, which becomes a concern of its own.
Following the death of Barry, a beloved barred owl that called Central Park home, after a collision with a truck back in 2021, a necropsy showed she had potentially lethal levels of rat poison in her system that could have impaired her flying. Many fear feasting on Central Park’s rats could expose Flaco to the same toxins.
“We are going to continue monitoring Flaco and his activities,” says the Zoo, “and to be prepared to resume recovery efforts if he shows any sign of difficulty or distress.”
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