For more than a week, Central Park Zoo staffers and bird enthusiasts have been keeping round-the-clock tabs on Flaco, a Eurasian eagle-owl who escaped his exhibit after it was vandalized.
Up until Sunday, staffers were actively trying to entice Flaco back to his enclosure with food, fearing the feathered fugitive would starve on his own.
But on Sunday night, the zoo said it would reevaluate its rescue efforts. Flaco, who took up residence in the park after taking flight, has been “successfully hunting, catching and consuming prey,” the zoo said in a statement.
What You Need To Know
- The Central Park Zoo said it would "rethink" its approach to rescuing a Eurasian eagle-owl who escaped his exhibit on Feb. 2, as the bird has been "successfully hunting, catching and consuming prey"
- Flaco flew the coop after someone cut through his enclosure’s stainless steel mesh in an act of vandalism, the zoo said
- With Flaco facing “potential challenges in this environment on a daily basis,” the zoo said it would “continue to monitor him, though not as intensely, and look to opportunistically recover him when the situation is right"
“A major concern for everyone at the beginning was whether Flaco would be able to hunt and eat; that is no longer a concern,” the zoo said. “Since our recovery strategies thus far have all been based on luring him to familiar food items, we need to rethink our approach.”
“We have seen a rapid improvement in his flight skills and ability to confidently maneuver around the park,” the zoo added. “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.”
Flaco flew the coop at some point before 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 2, when zoo staffers discovered someone had cut through his enclosure’s stainless steel mesh. Police have yet to arrest anyone in connection with the vandalism, the zoo said.
As of Monday afternoon, the owl had set up shop near Pinebank Arch, in the south end of Central Park, the Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter account, which has been tracking his whereabouts, said.
Eurasian eagle-owls are typically found in Europe and Asia, as well as parts of northern Africa, according to The Peregrine Fund, a conservation organization.
In its statement Sunday, the zoo said staffers were “confident that we will be able to track [Flaco’s] movements as he continues to explore and expand his range.”
With Flaco facing “potential challenges in this environment on a daily basis,” the zoo said it would “continue to monitor him, though not as intensely, and look to opportunistically recover him when the situation is right.”
“Birders have been out in force and there are a lot of eyes on Flaco. We are confident that we will be able to track his movements as he continues to explore and expand his range,” the zoo said. “We thank everyone who is pulling for the eagle owl’s safe recovery and understand the importance of good birding etiquette while observing and photographing him.”