Flaco, a Eurasian eagle-owl who escaped from the Central Park Zoo two weeks ago, will be allowed to fly free — for now. Flaco got out of his enclosure after vandals cut through his mesh barriers, according to zoo officials. Starvation, rat poison, and Windex-ed windows were imminent threats to the bird, especially because Flaco had lived in captivity since 2010. Workers from the zoo maintained “visual contact” with Flaco during his first day in Central Park, but have since failed to maintain the ever-crucial physical contact.
Flaco, who is shaped like a gorgeous urn and has orange eyes lit up like fire, gained more and more admirers every day as bird-watchers, tourists, and regular New Yorkers alike followed him around and snapped photos. At one point, the city held its breath as Flaco was nearly caught in a net trap baited with rats, but he untangled his feet and flew away. The Twitter account Manhattan Bird Alert has been keeping up with every new Flaco happening, which is apparently very annoying to the director of the Bronx Zoo.
It turns out that Flaco has been able to feed himself on the city’s abundant rat population, as he’s proven by hacking up pellets of bones and fur to rapt audiences watching below. Because of this, the zoo has suspended recovery operations, but says they will keep an eye on the owl’s health and be “prepared to resume recovery efforts if he shows any sign of difficulty or distress.” Which means, at least for now, that Flaco will continue to hoot around for all to see.