Owl escapes from Central Park Zoo, eludes NYPD, zookeepers
NEW YORK (AP) — An owl at the Central Park Zoo flew the coop after someone vandalized its exhibit by cutting through stainless steel mesh, zoo officials said Friday.
The Eurasian eagle-owl named Flaco was discovered missing at 8:30 p.m. Thursday and remained on the loose Friday, zoo spokesperson Max Pulsinelli said.
New York Police Department officers tried to catch the bird after it was spotted on Fifth Avenue Thursday night, but it flew off.
The owl returned to Central Park at sunrise Friday and spent the day high up in a tree there.
“Our focus and effort at this time is on the safe recovery of the owl,” zoo officials said in a news release. “We will issue updates as needed.”
Eurasian eagle-owls are one of the larger owl species with a wingspan greater than 6 feet (180 centimeters), and have mottled brown and black feathers with distinctive ear tufts. They are not native to North America.
This one might do fine in Central Park — if it knew how to hunt, said David Barrett, an avid birder who chronicles the city's avian population via Twitter accounts including Manhattan Bird Alert and Brooklyn Bird Alert.
After years of captivity, however, “this owl has surely lost its skills for hunting,” Barrett said. He estimated that the owl would starve after a day or two in the wild.
The vandalism at the New York City zoo occurred after a string of animal disappearances and other odd incidents across the country, including at the Dallas Zoo.