Following Flaco’s Autopsy, Beloved Bird is Honored with Calls for Change

flaco the owl dies

Photo: Julie Larsen Maher

The cause of death for Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who was found dead last week on the UWS more than a year after escaping from the Central Park Zoo, has been announced as “death due to acute traumatic injury,” the Central Park Zoo said in a statement. It is believed that Flaco passed away after flying into a building on West 89th St.

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The statement cites hemorrhaging in Flaco’s body and bleeding under the left eye, but says no bones were broken.

“Flaco was in good body condition at the time of death, with good muscling and adequate fat stores,” the statement reads. “His last weight taken at the Central Park Zoo was 1.9 kg (4.2 lb). He was 1.86 kg (4.1bs) at necropsy.”

Emily Einhorn of the Wild Bird Fund, who originally responded to the call when Flaco was found on the street, told ABC 7 NY that Flaco likely had a double concussion.

Bronx Zoo pathologists performed the necropsy but have not yet conducted other more involved tests to identify potential underlying issues to Flaco’s health. Those tests will take weeks according to the statement.

Flaco’s death has drawn an outpouring of support for the bird that became a local celebrity, including from New York City Mayor Adams. Mourners have gathered around Flaco’s favorite oak tree near The Ravine in Central Park, leaving artwork, memorials and notes in honor of the famous owl. A petition to erect a statue of Flaco has already reached its 500-signature goal and is now aiming for 1,000.

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In response to Flaco’s death, the Lights Out Coalition is calling on City Council to pass “Flaco’s Law” legislation, which resurfaces a bill requiring buildings to eliminate “unnecessary and nonessential building illumination” that can confuse and disorient birds in flight. “Flaco’s Law” could also require buildings to be retrofitted with bird-friendly materials. Lights Out Coalition claims in a press release that there are roughly 250,000 bird deaths resulting from building collisions in New York City each year. The Wild Bird Fund has that number between 90,000 and 200,000.


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