An Owl’s Great Escape is Captivating New Yorkers

Flaco is adapting to life in the wild.

Feb 21, 2023


An Owl’s Great Escape is Captivating New Yorkers | Flaco is adapting to life in the wild.

Flaco, a Eurasian Eagle Owl escaped from his enclosure in the Central Park Zoo in New York on February 2, 2023 and has been on the lam ever since. At first, the zoo officials were afraid that a bird that is used to being in a zoo would not be able to fend for himself in the wild but he has been hunting and fending for himself.

The great escape
Falco didn’t escape by himself. Someone vandalized the stainless-steel mesh on his zoo exhibit and Falco flew the coop, reportedAP News. He was discovered missing at 8:30 pm by zoo employees.

The owl was spotted by NYPD officers on fifth Avenue who gave chase but were unable to capture the elusive owl. Falco returned to Central Park up in  a tree on Friday evening. It’s fairly easy to spot a Eurasian Eagle Owl because they have wing spans of more than 6 feet (180) centimeters) and have brown and black feathers.

Zoo officials were very concerned that Falco wouldn’t be able to hunt for his own food and set about capturing the owl by providing familiar food for him in the park. An owl that doesn’t hunt could starve in if he couldn’t hunt his own food. While Eurasian owls eat mostly small mammals like rats, reported NPR, the species has also been known to eat other forms of prey.

Falco is captivating watchers
Zoo staffers and other people have been keeping track of Falco since his escape to document and observe his behavior, according to a Central Park Zoo statement. There has been a noted improvement in the owl’s flight skills and he has been successfully hunting and eating.

Still, the zoo saw the need to monitor the owl to make sure that he stays in the safety of the park and said that Falco would be recovered if the situation warranted it. But it would have to done carefully so that the delicate bird is not injured.

The Zoo was not alone in keeping an eye out for the escapee. Max Pulsinelli, executive director of communications for the Wildlife Conservation Society's Zoos and Aquarium said in the statement:

“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, 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.

The Zoos' concerns were that the owl would leave the confines of the park and not be safe on the city’s streets from traffic to the possibility of eating rats that have been poisoned.  “Our main concern has always been for the well-being of the eagle owl,”  Pulsinelli said

On February 18, the zoo announced that it was ending all efforts to capture Falco, since he had adapted so well to the wild. The former escapee is flying high and free as a bird!

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.