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Eurasian eagle owl escapes Central Park Zoo via vandals, continues evading rescue

Screenshot from Manhattan Bird Alert Twitter video

Flaco, a Eurasian eagle owl, escaped his enclosure at New York City's Central Park Zoo on Thursday night and remains on the loose.

The raptor's exhibit "had been vandalized and the stainless steel mesh cut," according to a statement from the zoo obtained by NPR.

"The zoo's 'focus and effort at this time is on the safe recovery of the owl,'" NPR also reported.

Flaco, in Spanish, means skinny. Flaco himself, in captivity for 12 years according to the New York Post, appears pleasantly plump.

Many eagle-eyed New Yorkers have spotted Flaco in and around Central Park since the clever raptor saw his opening Thursday and seized it.

NYPD's 19th precinct was among the onlookers who caught sight--and photos--of Flaco's out-of-pen adventures.

"Well, that was a hoot," the precinct tweeted. "We tried to help this lil wise guy, but he had enough of his growing audience and flew off," they said, adding that Flaco was "last seen flying south on 5th Avenue."

Sunday, Julia Austin tweeted a quartet of photos of a similar-looking owl she believes to be Flaco. She expressed concern that Flaco might not be eating, but was relieved the bird was "safe." Austin's Twitter bio indicates she is a senior lecturer at Harvard Business School.

"Flaco the Eurasian Eagle-Owl high above Central Park's Hallett Sanctuary on Friday, his ear tufts flapping in the cold wind," Manhattan Bird Alert tweeted Saturday, including a video of the magnificent escapee perched in a tree.

On Sunday, Manhattan Bird Alert said they believe Flaco has not eaten since his escape.

NYC Parks tweeted Friday that their Rangers were "on the case." At the time, they said Flaco was "healthy," and they asked park goers to give time and space to facilitate the rescue.

The vandalizing of Flaco's enclosure is among a string of disturbing events involving harm to zoo animals.

A dozen squirrel monkeys were stolen from Zoosiana, a zoo outside Lafayette, Louisiana over the weekend, Butler Eagle reported. Multiple local, state, and federal agencies were investigating the incident, the outlet also said.

A suspect was arrested Thursday in incidents involving Dallas Zoo's clouded leopard, langur monkeys, and emperor tamarin monkeys. Davion Irvin, 24, is charged with four counts of animal cruelty (non-livestock) and two counts of burglary in the bizarre case.

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