Flaco the Owl Dies After Flying Into Upper West Side Building

flaco the owl dies

Photo: Julie Larsen Maher

The Wildlife Conservation society has announced in a statement that Flaco, the Eurasian eagle owl who captivated New Yorkers after escaping from the Central Park Zoo in February 2023, has died after colliding with a building on West 89th St. The 13-year-old bird has been transported to the Bronx Zoo for an animal autopsy.

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Flaco was able to escape the Central Park Zoo after a vandal cut the stainless steel mesh that was housing the bird. Since his escape, Flaco had been spotted all over Manhattan but recent sightings were concentrated in Central Park and on the Upper West Side roughly between 70th and 90th streets.

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

According to the statement, residents of the building noticed the bird and reported it to the Wild Bird Fund, which responded quickly and reported the bird dead.

Flaco’s movements over the last year have been well documented by major news organizations, bird experts and regular citizens of Manhattan. The NY Post reported in December that Flaco was straying from the park and spending more time atop buildings on the Upper West Side.

“This is his new behavior now, what we’re seeing,” an UWS resident and professor told the Post. “He’s no longer roosting in the park, or even trees as far as we know. He’s using human-made structures: air conditioners, window ledges and fire escapes, particularly ones on the inside of buildings.”

Concerns about Flaco’s ability to survive outside the zoo were raised after his escape, with experts citing rodenticide and other, bigger birds as potential risks.

“Our staff monitored him throughout the year and were prepared to recover him if he showed any sign of difficulty or distress,” the Wildlife Conservation Society said.

The statement added that more information would be publicly provided following the autopsy results and further testing.


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