Hoo-dunnit: Owl escapes Central Park Zoo after vandalism

Hoo-dunnit: Owl escapes Central Park Zoo after vandalism

A Eurasian-eagle owl is on the loose in New York City after escaping from the Central Park Zoo due to vandalism of his exhibit.

The bird, named Flaco, flew from his home Thursday night.

In a statement, the zoo said that “the exhibit had been vandalized” and that the stainless steel mesh had been cut. A spokesperson for the zoo said that police are investigating the crime.

Flaco has since been spotted in various locations around upper Manhattan.

The owl made a stop on Madison Avenue.


Police officers in the 19th Precinct, which covers the Upper East Side of Manhattan, spied the owl late Thursday on Madison Ave. and attempted a rescue.

On Twitter, they noted that they tried to help the “lil wise guy” but he flew off. He was “last seen flying south on Fifth Avenue,” police wrote.

The mayor’s office got in on the drama, sharing updates throughout the day on Twitter, and urging bird lovers to give Flaco some space. “If you see it, don’t spook it!”

Friday morning, David Barrett, who runs the popular birding site, Manhattan Bird Alert, spotted Flaco in Central Park near the Hallett Sanctuary. He said the bird was easy to pick out.

“It’s a dark blob in a bare tree,” he said.

The search is on for Flaco.

NYC Parks

He said that while Flaco would likely be fine in the extremely frigid temperatures, he was worried about the bird’s ability to forage for food.

“It probably lacks the skill to catch prey on its own in the wild,” he said, “because it’s been fed for over a decade.”

Barrett also worried that Flaco might leave the park and be run over by a car.

Eurasian eagle owls are among the world’s largest owls and are known for their bright orange eyes and ear tufts. They’re typically found throughout much of Europe and Asia – and not Midtown Manhattan. They typically feed on small mammals, such as rats.

Barrett was hopeful that rescuers would be able to lure the animal with food Friday night. But as of Friday afternoon, Flaco was still at large.

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