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Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who escaped Central Park Zoo, dies after apparently flying into building, zoo officials say

Central Park Zoo officials say Flaco the owl has died
Central Park Zoo officials say Flaco the owl has died 00:26

NEW YORK -- Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who has been followed by bird watchers across Manhattan since escaping the Central Park Zoo last year, has died, the zoo said Friday.

He apparently collided with a building on West 89th Street, according to a news release from the Wildlife Conservation Society, which operates the zoo. 

The society said that the Wild Bird Fund received reports of a downed owl at the building. The society said that when staff arrived, Flaco was unresponsive. The Wild Bird Fund said on social media that their initial exam and details on the scene "indicated that Flaco had collided with a window." The bird was unresponsive, and declared dead shortly afterwards, the Central Park Zoo said. His remains were taken the Bronx Zoo for a necropsy. 

Flaco in Central Park. Jesse Zanger

The 13-year-old owl escaped the Central Park Zoo on Feb. 2, 2023, after someone apparently cut the stainless steel mesh of his zoo exhibit. Zoo staff spent weeks trying to capture him, but he evaded all efforts and proved able to catch his own food.

In the year since his escape, he has frequently been spotted in Central Park, the East Village and on the Upper West Side. 

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

The Wild Bird Fund said on social media that it was a "deeply sad day." 

"We hoped only to see Flaco hooting wildly from the top of our local water tower, never in the clinic. We are grateful to all who contacted us today and all who helped with his rescue," the organization said. 

The zoo says they will provide further information after the necropsy and further testing is performed.

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