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Flaco, the beloved owl who became a fixture in Manhattan, passed away last month with underlying health conditions consistent with urban wildlife. His death was initially thought to be due to acute traumatic injury from striking a building. However, a necropsy revealed that Flaco had severe pigeon herpesvirus from eating feral pigeons and had been exposed to anticoagulant rodenticides commonly used for rat control, which may have contributed to his death.

The severe herpesvirus found in Flaco can be fatal in birds of prey, causing tissue damage and organ inflammation. These underlying conditions may have predisposed him to the traumatic injury that ultimately led to his death. Flaco had been flying freely throughout Central Park and surrounding neighborhoods for over a year after escaping his zoo habitat following a breach of his enclosure by a vandal.

The investigation into Flaco’s death is ongoing, with no suspects arrested at this time. Despite leaving his zoo habitat and adapting to life in the urban environment of New York City, Flaco thrived for a while before succumbing to his underlying health issues. It is possible that the stress and challenges of city life had an impact on his longevity.

Flaco’s story captivated the hearts of New Yorkers who were charmed by the sight of the owl flying over Central Park and its surrounding areas. His ability to adapt his diet and habits to the city environment showed his resilience, but ultimately, the underlying health conditions caught up with him. The loss of Flaco is a reminder of the challenges faced by urban wildlife and the importance of protecting and preserving their habitats.

The Central Park Zoo, where Flaco once lived, expressed sadness over his passing and highlighted the impact of his underlying health conditions on his demise. The combination of severe herpesvirus and exposure to rodenticides likely had a debilitating effect on Flaco’s health, making him more vulnerable to injuries. Flaco’s story serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers that urban wildlife can face in a city setting.

In the wake of Flaco’s death, there has been an outpouring of support and condolences from the community. His presence in Manhattan brought joy to many, and his untimely passing serves as a reminder of the fragility of life, especially for wild animals living in urban areas. Flaco’s legacy will live on in the memories of those who were touched by his gentle presence and in the lessons learned about the importance of protecting and caring for the wildlife that shares our urban spaces.

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