Escaped Central Park Zoo owl Flaco will be allowed to remain free

NEW YORK — Flaco, the Eurasian owl that flew his coop at the Central Park Zoo after someone tore open his habitat will remain a free bird — at least for now, zoo officials said Saturday.

The zoo will be suspending recovery efforts for the wayward bird, who has been seen flying around the 1.3-mile park ever since escaping from its habitat more than two weeks ago.

Flaco’s park adventure has been a highlight for New York City birders who have photographed and reported on his movements.

On Friday, Flaco was spotted in a tree by the Naumberg Bandshell near East 72nd Street.

During their last attempt to recover Flaco on Thursday, zoo officials attempted to lure the owl to the ground “with bait and recordings of eagle owl calls.”

“Though he showed some interest in the calls, the attempt was unsuccessful,” a zoo official said. “Efforts at recovering the bird have proven more difficult since he has been very successful at hunting and consuming the abundant prey in the park.”

Zoo workers will continue to keep an eye on Flaco and will be “prepared to resume recovery efforts if he shows any sign of difficulty or distress.”

Flaco was reported missing form his exhibitabout 8:30 p.m. on Feb. 2.

His stainless steel mesh enclosure was intentionally cut open, said police, who are investigating the incident as possible criminal mischief.

After flying off, Flaco embarked on a tour of the neighborhood.

The bird was spotted onFifth Avenue and East 60th Street, not far from the zoo about a half-hour after he was reported missing.

A crowd watched as New York Police Department Emergency Services Unit officers worked to get the bird into a cage, but Flaco wasn’t ready to go home, and flew off again.

“Well, that was a hoot,” the NYPD’s 19th Precinct brass tweeted. “We tried to help this lil wise guy, but he had enough of his growing audience and flew off.”

At sunrise, Flaco flew back into the southeast corner of Central Park, and settled in on a hard-to-reach tree branch near the park’s Hallett Nature Sanctuary, just north of West 59th Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues.

Eurasian Eagle owls, among the world’s largest owls, are native to much of Europe and Asia, as well as parts of North Africa.

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