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Remains of Flaco, famous NYC owl who escaped his enclosure, donated to science

The infamous owl was found dead after colliding with a building in Manhattan in February.
Flaco the owl
Posted at 6:16 PM, May 29, 2024

The remains of Flaco, the Eurasian eagle owl who became a New York City icon, were donated to science, the Central Park Zoo said Tuesday.

Samples of Flaco's wings and tissue were transferred just across the park to the American Museum of Natural History, where his remains will become part of its scientific collection but will not be available for the public to view.

The Central Park Zoo said what wasn’t given to the museum was archived at the Bronx Zoo’s Wildlife Health Center.

“These collections are used extensively by scientists and also by artists who develop images for educational materials, including birding field guides,” the Central Park Zoo explained.

The infamous owl was found dead after colliding with a building in Manhattan in February. Initially, officials said his death was consistent with acute traumatic injury. But Flaco’s necropsy results revealed he had "severe pigeon herpesvirus" from eating pigeons, and had been exposed to four types of rat poison and a type of pesticide — all of which likely contributed to his death.

Flaco became a famous figure in the Big Apple skies after someone breached a fence at the Central Park Zoo in 2023, and cut a hole through the steel mesh cage of his enclosure, setting him free after he spent over a decade in captivity.

Efforts to recapture the owl were called off shortly after they began, and the culprit responsible for vandalizing his cage has not been identified.

The notable owl with his 6-foot wingspan was often spotted around the city lounging in parks, perching on fire escapes and preying on the abundance of rodents.

Following his untimely death, Flaco fans left flower bouquets and other mementos at one of his favorite trees in Central Park’s North Woods.

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