Flaco has learned how to survive and hunt in the wilds of Central Park after a group of vandals cut through his mesh cage.
A rare Eurasian owl named Flaco is now a celebrity after being reported missing from the Central Park Zoo on February 2 at around 8:30 am. According to The Spirit, Flaco has learned how to survive and hunt in the wilds of Central Park after a group of vandals cut through his mesh cage. “We are relieved and overjoyed that Flaco the Eurasian Eagle-Owl, who had spent his entire roughly 13-year life in captivity, has learned to obtain prey and feed himself after a week in the wild of Central Park,” tweeted the Manhattan Bird Alert. The zoo keepers tried to lure him with bait and recordings of eagle owl calls, but they were unsuccessful. They even set a trap, but he managed to untangle himself from the netting and escape before getting caught.
It was great to see Flaco the Eurasian Eagle-Owl in a new area of Central Park for him, the North Woods, this Monday evening. pic.twitter.com/HI8ubKyTri— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) February 21, 2023
The Central Park Zoo was worried that Flaco would be unable to survive on his own after a while because he had been accustomed to the feedings since his arrival in 2010. However, recently he was seen feasting on a rat. Some Twitter users raised concerns that the rat may have eaten rat poison which could kill the owl if he ingested it. On the other hand, maybe during his time at the zoo, he was still hunting for mice, so a wild adventure for a 79-inch wingspan bird will not be as dangerous. “Our focus and effort at this time are on the safe recovery of the owl. We will issue updates as needed,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said in a statement.
Dustin Partridge, the director of conservation and science at the NYC chapter of the Audubon Society said that city owls face many challenges. For instance, feeding on rodents can make the owl ingest rat poisons, or they may fly into windows during nocturnal flights. “These threats are very real,” Dr. Partridge was quoted from the NY Times. However, Flaco has been given a green card to keep his freedom. For now. Since none of the traps or the baits worked, the zoo keepers are left with no option.
"Though he showed some interest in the calls, the attempt was unsuccessful. As we noted previously, efforts at recovering the bird have proven more difficult since he has been very successful at hunting and consuming the abundant prey in the park," a statement read, according to UPI.
We are hearing that the zoo team may try to capture Flaco tonight by luring him to a cage with a female Eurasian Eagle-Owl in it.— Manhattan Bird Alert (@BirdCentralPark) February 16, 2023
"We are going to continue monitoring Flaco and his activities and to be prepared to resume recovery efforts if he shows any sign of difficulty or distress. We will issue additional updates if there is a change in the eagle owl's status or our plan changes." Flaco has been enjoying his free reign ever since the exhibit was vandalized, which has caused park rangers and police officers to lead a manhunt in search of the elusive owl. Birdwatchers across the city have since tried to click pictures of Flaco, making him a celebrity. "As an avid birdwatcher, I wonder if it's not a great idea to introduce a huge, nonnative bird of prey to Central Park, an important stopover for many of our native birds," birdwatcher Alison S. told the West Side Rag.
Okay, I finally captured Flaco, the escaped Eurasian eagle-owl, and as you’d expect being the apex predator that he is now, he was none too pleased about it. 😉 Lifer! Respectful quiet crowd. 🙏@pooley_eric 4 info. #birdcpp #BirdsSeenIn2023 #BirdTwitter #TwitterNatureCommunity pic.twitter.com/madlf73Nlz— SandraB (@SandraBirdlover) February 21, 2023
David Barret, founder of the popular Twitter account, Manhattan Bird Alert @BirdCentralPark, spoke of Flaco's endurance for the wild. “After spending a couple of days last week resting over his old home, the Central Park Zoo, he has moved on to explore the park. He seems to be enjoying his freedom, doing all the things a wild owl would be expected to do.” He added, “Not only has he developed the skill and endurance to fly around the park, but he also looks graceful doing it. This after a lifetime of being forced to be mostly sedentary. He hoots, too! Probably both to indicate his territory and to find a mate.”