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Flaco, the Runaway Zoo Owl, May Stay In New York City’s Wilds

By 02/19/2023 6:08 PMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

An owl that escaped from the Central Park Zoo in New York has been flying from treetop to treetop for two weeks, evading arrest and gathering throngs of admirers concerned about its capacity to survive alone in the vast metropolis.

Would Flaco, a magnificent Eurasian eagle-owl, starve if he couldn’t hunt because of his captivity?

The answer was a loud negative, much to everyone’s relief. It seems Flaco has rediscovered his killer instincts and has gotten quite adept at swooping down from his lofty perch to prey on the park’s wealth of rats.

As a result, Zoo officials declared that they were stopping recovery efforts, at least temporarily, but would continue monitoring the owl’s condition closely.

In a statement, zoo authorities added, “We are going to keep an eye on Flaco and his activities and to be ready to resume recovery operations if he shows any symptom of trouble or distress.”

The bird’s moniker translates to “thin” in Spanish, and because he hadn’t been spotted eating in the early days of his breakout, it appeared he might live up to that reputation.

But, excitement was stirred when he began coughing up fur and bones, evidence that he had been hunting and eating.

In particular, “because he has been quite successful at hunting and consuming the numerous game in the park,” officials noted that recovering Flaco had been challenging.

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, the Eurasian eagle-owl is one of the giant owl species, with a wingspan reaching 79 inches (2 meters). They have prominent ear tufts and massive talons.

The task of capturing Flaco continued despite evidence that he had been eating rats.

Most recently, zoo staff members used bait and recordings of eagle-owl sounds to attempt to draw Flaco. He displayed some interest, but he wasn’t duped.

After it was discovered that vandals had damaged the stainless steel meshing at the bird’s enclosure, the hunt for Flaco was started on February 2.

Although seeing upper Manhattan, Flaco has stayed very close to the park. He fled for the neighboring Fifth Avenue shopping district, where police attempted but failed to apprehend him.

He enthralled the crowds wherever he went, including the skating rink in the park. With so many sightings on Twitter, the hashtag #freeflaco and an online petition to keep him free quickly took off.

“Flaco is flourishing in Central Park. And that’s incredible. David Barrett, who manages the birding Twitter accounts Manhattan Bird Alert, Brooklyn Bird Alert, and Bronx Bird Alert stated that the owl had made a stunning transition from being a captive bird to being in the wild far faster than anyone would have anticipated.

Flaco would have to travel across the ocean to find other Eurasian eagle-owls in the wild because they are not native to North America.

He moved into the Central Park Zoo in 2010 when he was under a year old.

Owls are primarily solitary creatures who only interact with other creatures during the nesting season.

“Will he feel lonely out there? That’s a great question, Barrett added.



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