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Eurasian eagle-owl escapes Central Park Zoo enclosure after exhibit vandalized

<i>NYC Mayor's Office</i><br/>Flaco
NYC Mayor's Office
NYC Mayor's Office

By Mallika Kallingal and Rob Frehse, CNN

Authorities at New York’s Central Park Zoo are scrambling to recapture an Eurasian eagle-owl that escaped after its enclosure was vandalized.

Officials discovered Flaco’s exhibit was vandalized and the stainless steel mesh was cut on Thursday night, the zoo said in a statement.

The New York City Mayor’s Office initially said the bird had been caught Thursday, tweeting, “New York’s Finest saves one of New York’s Flyest.” But, it updated that post Friday, saying the bird flew off mid-rescue and requesting people, “If you see it, don’t spook it!”

The New York Police Department also tweeted that Flaco had evaded capture. “Well, that was a hoot. We tried to help this lil wise guy, but he had enough of his growing audience & flew off,” they said.

Flaco was spotted by rangers in Hallett Sanctuary Friday morning “hunkering down in a tree” and again in the same area in the afternoon, the New York City Parks Department said.

And officials are requesting park goers to “give space so that he can be rescued.”

Flaco was also seen around town Thursday night flying south on 5th Avenue, then perching on a tree where he stayed through the night. But he flew into Central Park at sunrise Friday morning, police and zoo authorities said.

“Our focus and effort at this time is on the safe recovery of the owl,” zoo staff added.

The NYPD’s Central Park precinct tweeted Thursday that it was becoming difficult to recapture Flaco as he’s “a recidivist in our area that magically disappears into the night, a real HOO-Dini.”

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CNN’s Zenebou Sylla contributed to this report

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