Central Park

Flaco Watch: Escaped Central Park Zoo Owl Finally Seen Eating

Zoo staff and avid bird watchers have been keeping a close eye on the owl since his escape earlier this month

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It's been more than 10 days since one of Central Park's most notable residents flew the coop, prompting worries from wildlife officials scared the escaped bird would not be able to hunt for itself.

Flaco, the Eurasian eagle-owl who previously called Central Park Zoo home, has been crashing in the park since someone damaged the animal's habitat, allowing the owl to fly free.

A brief flight to Manhattan's 5th Avenue caught the surprise and attention of onlookers, as well as the NYPD, who attempted to secure the owl but were ultimately unsuccessful. Flaco took off back for Central Park.

In the week that followed, concern boiled over as observers tasked with tracking his movements failed to catch the owl eating in the wild.

"It probably won't be eating on its own in Central Park, as it's been a captive owl. It probably won't have the skills needed to hunt, although it might," David Barrett, who runs the popular bird watching Twitter account "Manhattan Bird Alert," said last week.

Good news finally came this past weekend after zoo staff finally observed Flaco hunting in the park.

"Several days ago, we observed him successfully hunting, catching and consuming prey. We have seen a rapid improvement in his flight skills and ability to confidently maneuver around the park," a zoo spokesperson said Sunday.

Max Pulsinelli, the zoo spokesperson, said recovery strategies have failed to produce a positive outcome and his adjustment to the wild means staff needs to "rethink our approach." But between the zoo staff and bird watchers "out in force," they are positive Flaco's safety remains intact.

Flaco escaped Feb. 2 under the cover of night after the bird's exhibit was vandalized and its stainless steel mesh was cut.

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