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A rare owl named Flaco escaped the Central Park Zoo and is now gallivanting around the park hunting for prey

Clay Walker   

A rare owl named Flaco escaped the Central Park Zoo and is now gallivanting around the park hunting for prey
  • An owl named Flaco escaped from his enclosure at the Central Park Zoo almost two weeks ago.
  • Flaco adapted well to life outside the zoo, so his ability to survive is no longer a major concern.

A rare Eurasian eagle owl named Flaco escaped his enclosure at the Central Park Zoo on February 2 and has been on the loose ever since.

According to a statement released by the Central Park Zoo, Flaco was able to escape after his exhibit "had been vandalized and the stainless steel mesh cut." When Insider followed up for more information on the vandalism incident, a spokesperson had no additional comment and directed us to previous statements.

Upon escaping, Flaco flew to New York City's Fifth Avenue where he was spotted on the sidewalk only to return to the park later that evening, where he has remained since.

Initially, zoo officials worried about Flaco's ability to survive outside of his enclosure since it was not his natural habitat. Eurasian eagle owls are normally found in Europe, Asia, and certain regions of North Africa, and their population declined in the mid-20th century due to hunting practices (though thanks to conservation efforts, their numbers in Europe have bounced back slightly, according to The Peregrine Fund, a nonprofit dedicated to endangered birds of prey conservation).

However, after observing Flaco's behavior in the days following his escape, they are no longer worried about his ability to adapt. A Eurasian eagle owl's diet mainly consists of rabbits, rodents, and even other small birds, and Central Park provides fertile hunting grounds — especially, as most New Yorkers know, rats.

"Several days ago, we observed him successfully hunting, catching, and consuming prey. We have seen a rapid improvement in his flight skills and ability to confidently maneuver around the park," the zoo said in a second statement on Sunday.

As it seems Flaco is able to fend for himself, the Central Park Zoo has pivoted its plan to capture Flaco.

"Our observations indicate that he seems to be comfortable in the area of the park where he has been hunting, and we don't want to do anything to encourage him to leave this site," the Sunday statement continued. "We are also aware that he faces potential challenges in this environment on a daily basis. We will continue to monitor him, though not as intensely, and look to opportunistically recover him when the situation is right."

Zoo officials are not the only eyes following Flaco's every move. New Yorkers have taken to the park and social media to give their own updates on the owl's whereabouts.

Even political commentator Keith Olbermann joined the Flaco discussion.

While it is positive that Flaco seems to be doing well, the zoo wants the public to know that this situation is still concerning.

They ended their statement with this message: "It is important to remember that this situation is the result of a deliberate criminal act which jeopardizes the safety of the bird and is still under investigation by the NYPD."

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