Flaco’s Remains Sent to AMNH

flaco the owl dies

Photo: Julie Larsen Maher

The remains of Flaco – the Eurasian eagle owl who escaped from the Central Park Zoo in February 2023 and passed away about a year later – have been transferred to the American Museum of Natural History, according to a statement from the Wildlife Conservation Society.

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The remains include wing and tissue samples but will not be publicly viewable, according to the statement. The samples will be part of the museum’s frozen tissue specimen collection.

“These collections are used extensively by scientists and also by artists who develop images for educational materials, including birding field guides,” the statement reads.

Flaco’s escape from the Central Park Zoo, made possible after a vandal cut the mesh that housed him, captivated bird enthusiasts and New Yorkers in general. The rare bird was often spotted in Central Park and between 70th and 90th streets on the Upper West Side. But concerns were soon raised over the owl’s ability to survive on its own in the city, especially considering the prevalence of rodenticide on city streets. The Central Park Zoo would suspend efforts to catch Flaco after multiple failed attempts.

Flaco’s tragic death occurred in February after he collided with a building on W. 89th St. A necropsy performed by the Bronx Zoo discovered the owl had four different rat poisons and a pigeon herpesvirus in his system, which likely would have proved fatal had he not struck the building.

“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 after Flaco’s passing. “We are still hopeful that the NYPD, which is investigating the vandalism, will ultimately make an arrest.”

Just shy of his 14th birthday before his passing, Flaco first arrived at the Central Park Zoo at less than a year old. In December, the New York Post documented sightings of Flaco with images and videos shared by fans of the owl on social media. After Flaco’s death, the Lights Out Coalition called on City Council to pass “Flaco’s Law” legislation, which would require Manhattan buildings to take steps towards protecting further incidents that could prove fatal to birds.


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