New York's beloved escaped owl Flaco dies after striking a building

New York, New York - The Big Apple's beloved owl Flaco has died after striking a building in Manhattan. The bird escaped from the Central Park Zoo after vandals damaged his enclosure in February 2023.

Flaco, New York's beloved owl, has died after striking a building.
Flaco, New York's beloved owl, has died after striking a building.  © Julie Larsen/WCS

The Eurasian eagle owl Flaco died after striking a building on West 89th Street. Bystanders reported the injured owl to the Wild Bird Fund (WBF), according to a statement from Central Park Zoo.

Rescuers found Flaco unresponsive, and pronounced him dead shortly thereafter.

The zoo staff collected the owl's remains and took them to the Bronx Zoo for a necropsy.

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Flaco captured the public's attention in New York and beyond when he escaped his enclosure at the Central Park Zoo after it was damaged by vandals in February 2023.

The heartbroken public is mourning the loss of the owl on social media.

Zoo officials blame vandals for Flaco's death

Social media users and New Yorkers are heartbroken over Flaco's death.
Social media users and New Yorkers are heartbroken over Flaco's death.  © Screenshot/X/diveartist

The zoo hopes whoever damaged Flaco's habitat will be brought to justice.

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

Before his escape, Flaco lived at the zoo for 13 years. He was reportedly the only Eurasian eagle owl in North America.

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Many feared Flaco couldn't survive outside captivity, but during his year in the wilds of New York, Flaco proved them wrong. He also wowed the public, spending most of his year on the lam in Central Park and Manhattan.

The zoo eventually abandoned its attempts to recapture Flaco and decided to monitor him instead.

"We appreciate all the support and concern over the well-being of Flaco throughout the past year and the many people who contacted us with updates. We especially appreciate the quick response by the staff of the Wild Bird Fund in their attempt to help Flaco," the zoo said.

Cover photo: Julie Larsen/WCS

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