Zoo says’most renowned owl in the world,’ Flaco, dies

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DETROIT — Officials from New York City’s Central Park Zoo reported Friday that Flaco, the eagle owl of Eurasian descent who became a cherished celebrity after escaping and flying around Manhattan, has passed away.
A little over a year after being rescued from the zoo’s cage in an unsolved crime, Flaco seems to have been involved in a collision with a building on the Upper West Side, according to a statement from the zoo.




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

Zoo says’most renowned owl in the world,’ Flaco, dies
Zoo says’most renowned owl in the world,’ Flaco, dies

Animal rescue workers from the Wild Bird Fund arrived on the scene of the accident and pronounced Flaco dead not long after. His necropsy was scheduled to take place on Saturday at the Bronx Zoo.
World Bird Fund posted on X, the social networking platform formerly known as Twitter, that they “hoped only to see Flaco hooting wildly from the top of our local water tower, never in the clinic.” As the organization put it.




Getting away
Someone started Flaco’s time in the skies on February 2, 2023, when they slipped into the Central Park Zoo via a waist-high fence. They broke into the cage and freed the baby owl that had come to the zoo thirteen years ago, by cutting a hole in the steel mesh. No details on the crime have been made public after February 2023, when the zoo halted its attempts to recapture Flaco.

Despite spending his entire existence in prison, Flaco has managed to thrive in the urban jungle. He quickly became a beloved figure in the city. During the day, he lounged in parks and courtyards in Manhattan or perched on fire escapes. At night, he would perch on water towers and hunt the city’s rat population.




Spotting Flacos quickly became a sport. Birdwatchers followed him all over the Big Apple because of his penchant for making unannounced appearances at people’s windows. Tragically, Flaco passed away. The birders who faithfully recorded the owl’s whereabouts and the countless fans who avidly followed their every move were devastated. On Saturday, tributes began pouring in for Flaco.




Zoo says’most renowned owl in the world,’ Flaco, dies

Nicole Blair, an artist from New York City, dedicated a large portion of her X platform account to images and memes depicting the owl with its circular eyes sunset-colored and its checkerboard black and brown feathers. “Everybody feels the same, they’re devastated,” Blair said.




The owl made an appearance on murals and goods like a real celebrity. Among Blair’s New York City-themed ornaments was a likeness of the notorious “Pizza Rat,” who was shown in a viral video dragging a pizza slice down subway stairs.

“I got to see him on my birthday,” Blair remarked of her autumnal encounter with Flaco in Central Park. “It was kind of an unbelievable situation, and I’m like, this is the best birthday present ever.”
Fearing the owl would consume a poisoned rat or face other threats, she and others were concerned when Flaco left the park and explored more metropolitan parts of Manhattan.




David Barrett, who manages the Manhattan Bird Alert account on X and tracked reports of the owl’s activity, said that the ordinarily noisy owl, whose hours of hooting became a nightly song in the Upper West Side, had been quieter in the days leading up to his death.

After hearing about the bird’s death, Barrett began to assume that Flaco had been sick, as he expressed on Saturday, after having questioned if the bird had gone out to investigate other communities. “He hadn’t progressed in any way. “It seems like he was not feeling well enough to be hooting when he was just being quiet in his old neighborhood,” Barrett remarked.




Supporters experience loss

Zoo says’most renowned owl in the world,’ Flaco, dies

A bronze monument honoring Flaco, who has a legion of devoted followers, could be unveiled to the community on Saturday. One person even asked for a burial plot in Central Park for the owl. “Flaco the Owl was, in many ways, a typical New Yorker — fiercely independent, constantly exploring, finding ways to survive ever-changing challenges,” read a post on X, echoing a universal attitude. “He will be missed.”




Barrett proposed erecting a makeshift monument beside the park’s beloved oak tree, the bird’s favorite spot. In a post, he mentioned that fellow birdwatchers could “lay flowers, leave a note, or just be with others who loved Flaco.”
According to Barrett, who spoke about the matter later on, people were stopping by the makeshift memorial to pay their respects and reflect.




“Any sighting of an owl is remarkable,” he remarked. It is quite remarkable to see an owl in good condition on a daily basis. And that’s exactly what Flaco provided.


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