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The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

The Student News Site of Tenafly High School

The Echo

Death of Flaco the Owl Leaves Legacy of Freedom


Flaco, the beloved Eurasian eagle-owl famous for escaping the Central Park Zoo, died on February 23 near West 89th Street in Manhattan. He was 13 years old. 

According to the Wildlife Conservation Society, Flaco was found on the ground after a collision with a glass window pane building on 89th Street on the Upper West Side. 

After unidentified vandals set him free on February 2, 2023, Flaco had become Manhattan’s little celebrity. While there were worries that he wouldn’t survive long, as he had been raised in the Zoo, Flaco soon became an icon of freedom after the numerous sightings of him freely roaming the skies of New York. 

“With all of this challenging time that is happening all over the world, this bird really became a symbol of hope and brought so many of us together,” Breanne Delgado, a New York City resident, said.

As much sorrow as Flaco’s death brought to the world, it also brought awareness to make safer buildings for birds. According to Gothamist, approximately 250,000 birds die annually from crashing into New York’s buildings. 

“It’s currently one of the biggest threats that birds face,” Dustin Partridge, the Director of Conservation and Science of NYC Audubon, said. “That light that comes from the city at night is very attractive to birds. It pulls birds in. They change their flight path and move towards the city.”

In response to Flaco’s unfortunate death, the movement advocating for protecting birds against buildings has ramped up. According to PIX, New York’s Lawmakers announced that they would be “renaming the ‘Bird Safe Building Act’ to the ‘FLACO Act.’” 

“I’m gutted at the death of Flaco the owl, who delighted countless New Yorkers through his presence in Central Park,” Senator Brad Hoylman-Sigal of New York said. “By renaming our legislation to require state-owned buildings to incorporate bird friendly designs, we’ll not only honor this magnificent creature, but hopefully inspire our legislative colleagues to pass both the FLACO Act and the Dark Skies Protection Act.”

It seems as though New Yorkers’ love for Flaco will not diminish soon. Spectrum News stated that a memorial honoring Flaco was held on February 26 right under Flaco’s favorite oak tree by the 102 Street Crossing. 

“Flaco was larger than life and is leaving behind a legacy to match,” David Lei, a wildlife photographer and New York City resident, told Associated Press News. “I thank him today, as I did every day I got to see him, for the joy, awe and wonder he inspired in us throughout his journey.”

As of March 14, a petition pushing for the creation of a Flaco’s statue in Central Park has gathered approximately 4,200 signatures.

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About the Contributor
Heeseo Yoon
Heeseo Yoon, Junior Editor
Heeseo Yoon ('25), Echo's Junior Editor, enjoys writing about world affairs and creating cartoons.