Here are two facts: It is bad that someone vandalized the Central Park Zoo enclosure of Flaco the Eurasian eagle owl, allowing him to escape earlier this month. Also, New York bird Twitter hasn’t been this good since the reign of the East Asian Mandarin Duck, better known as the “hot duck” who ghosted us in 2018, as hot Manhattan boys tend to do.
I have followed Flaco’s saga via the intrepid reporters at Gothamist and my favorite Twitter account, Manhattan Bird Alert. Wildlife advocates were concerned that the escaped owl, a majestic creature with searing amber eyes who’s lived in captivity for years, wouldn’t know how to survive on his own. Zoo staff tried to lure him into traps with his favorite meal, dead rats, but he rebuffed these efforts and started hunting rats and generally thriving on his own.
Just look at this king:
Thankfully, Manhattan Bird Alert reported on February 11 that he “was just seen expelling a pellet of indigestible remains, meaning that Flaco has eaten in Central Park!” Yes, they even shared a photo of said pellet. Advocates remain worried that he might accidentally eat a rat that had ingested poison, so we must all stay vigilant, unfortunately. (Another beloved Central Park owl was hit by a truck in 2021 after eating rat poison.)
A rapidly growing Flaco fan club has been rooting for this wise boy as he adjusts to life outside of the zoo industrial complex, earnestly cheering when he successfully hunts food or checks out a new area of the park.
It’s very sweet how many New Yorkers besides me just want to get a look at him.
Including rodents that are about to find out how fucking dangerous he is despite being so cute.
The Zoo said in a statement Friday that Flaco is doing well enough that they’re putting recovery efforts on hold, acknowledging that he’s been “very successful at hunting and consuming the abundant prey in the park” and deciding to just “continue monitoring Flaco and his activities and to be prepared to resume recovery efforts if he shows any sign of difficulty or distress.
On Monday, our jetsetting bird was spotted in the north end of the park, about 50 blocks away from his former home. He’s got wanderlust! He’s exploring! Surveying his kingdom!
*Lady Gaga voice* I’m a free bitch, baby.