Flaco the owl flees New York Central Park zoo after enclosure vandalized

<span>Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP</span>
Photograph: Seth Wenig/AP

A Eurasian eagle owl named Flaco escaped New York’s Central Park zoo on Thursday night after his enclosure was vandalized and is still on the loose in Manhattan.

Flaco was spotted at different times since fleeing by various onlookers, once on a sidewalk on Fifth Avenue, across from the Plaza Hotel, and perched on trees around Central Park.

Zoo staff tried to lure Flaco back by leaving food out for him, but it was left untouched.

“The [owl’s] exhibit had been vandalized and the stainless steel mesh cut … Our focus and effort at this time is on the safe recovery of the owl. We will issue updates as needed,” a zoo spokesperson said.

According to the Peregrine Fund, an Idaho-based non-profit organization that conserves threatened and endangered birds of prey of the world, Eurasian eagle owls are among the world’s largest owls with an average wingspan of about 5-6ft long. They eat small mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish, insects and other birds.

While not endangered, Flaco may not survive if he is not soon recovered safely to the zoo since he spent most of his life in captivity and lacks real hunting skills.

Sightings continued on Monday afternoon, with some speculating that he may not try to fly further afield until darkness fell, while many members of the public were becoming concerned for the bird’s welfare.

Flaco’s escape and the damage to his enclosure are just the latest odd happenings at a famous US zoos in recent weeks.

The Dallas zoo was struck by as many as four incidents involving its animals escaping, being killed or having their enclosures tampered with. Late last week a 24-year-old man was arrested in connection with the zoo’s missing monkeys, who were apparently abducted and then later found inside an abandoned house.