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Fans mourn death of Flaco, beloved owl who escaped Central Park Zoo

The beloved Eurasian eagle owl was found dead this weekend after colliding with a building in Manhattan, a year after he escaped his vandalized cage.
Fans mourn death of Flaco, beloved owl who escaped Central Park Zoo
Posted at 1:28 PM, Feb 26, 2024

New Yorkers far and wide are paying tribute to Flaco, the beloved Eurasian eagle owl who was found dead this weekend after colliding with a building. He became famous after escaping his vandalized Central Park Zoo enclosure last year. 

The zoo said people in the Manhattan building on West 89th Street reported the downed owl to the Wild Bird Fund, which then notified Bronx Zoo staff and transported him to the zoo for a necropsy. 

The initial findings were consistent with death due to acute traumatic injury, the zoo said, but further testing will be conducted. 

Flaco became a famous figure in the Manhattan skies after someone breached a fence at the zoo on Feb. 2, 2023, and cut a hole through the steel mesh cage of his enclosure, setting him free after he spent over a decade in captivity. Efforts to recapture the owl were called off shortly after they began. 

Since his dramatic escape, the notable owl with his 6-foot wingspan has been spotted around the city lounging in parks, perching on fire escapes and preying on the abundance of rodents. 

The search for the person responsible for vandalizing his cage continues a year later. 

“The vandal who damaged Flaco’s exhibit jeopardized the safety of the bird and is ultimately responsible for his death,” the zoo said in a statement. “We are still hopeful that the NYPD, which is investigating the vandalism, will ultimately make an arrest.”

Fans of Flaco paid tribute to the bird who symbolized freedom, dropping off bouquets and stuffed animals at an oak tree in Central Park’s North Woods that is said to be one of his favorite spots. 

"Flaco’s tragic and untimely death highlights the issue of bird strikes and their devastating effects on wild bird populations," the zoo said. 

SEE MORE: Nearly 1,000 birds die in one night after hitting Chicago building

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