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Flaco, the celebrity owl of New York City, died after crashing into a building due to a severe pigeon-borne illness and high levels of rat poison. The Eurasian eagle-owl was found dead in a Manhattan courtyard last month, more than a year after escaping from the Central Park Zoo. Flaco lived in Central Park after escaping and became a proficient hunter but faced various threats, including poisoned rats. While an initial autopsy showed the cause of death was trauma, further testing revealed a pair of significant medical conditions may have contributed to the collision, including exposure to rat poisons and severe pigeon herpesvirus.

Blood tests showed Flaco had been exposed to four different rat poisons and had a “severe” case of pigeon herpesvirus that had damaged his brain, liver, spleen, and other organs. The zoo said that these factors, along with traumatic injuries, ultimately led to Flaco’s death. Flaco’s case highlights the hazards faced by wild birds, especially in an urban setting where exposure to toxins and diseases can be common. Following his death, zoo officials placed the blame on the unknown vandal who cut his enclosure, which remains an unsolved crime.

Flaco initially spent his days of freedom inside Central Park before venturing out into the Manhattan skyline. Although he had lived his entire 13 years in captivity, he quickly proved to be a proficient hunter, preying on the city’s rat population. However, the freedom also posed risks to Flaco, including the likelihood of consuming a poisoned rat. In the days leading up to his death, Flaco had stopped his nightly hooting from the city’s rooftops, leading some to believe he was ill. The owl’s passing brought both sadness and closure to those who had followed his journey through social media.

Flaco’s death was caused by a combination of factors, including infectious disease, toxin exposures, and traumatic injuries. The zoo emphasized the dangers faced by wild birds, particularly in an urban environment where exposure to toxins and diseases is heightened. Flaco’s passing served as a reminder of the threats wildlife face in cities and the importance of proper care and protection of these animals. The responsibility for the owl’s death was placed on the vandal who had cut his enclosure, a crime that remains unsolved. The tragic loss of Flaco had prompted an investigation into his death by zoo officials and brought awareness to the hazards faced by urban wildlife.

Flaco’s story captured the hearts of many New Yorkers as he went from being an escaped zoo animal to a beloved celebrity owl of the city. His ability to adapt to city life and live as a proficient hunter resonated with those who followed his journey. The conditions that led to his death shed light on the challenges faced by wild birds in urban environments and the importance of protecting them from harm. While his passing brought about sadness and mourning, it also brought understanding and closure to those who had followed his memorable journey. Flaco’s legacy will live on as a reminder of the need to protect and care for wildlife in urban settings to prevent tragedies like his untimely death.

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