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Flaco, the iconic New York City owl, had rat poison in his system

An autopsy report showed that Flaco had contracted pigeon herpes and had been exposed to four types of rat poison prior to his death.
Flaco, the iconic New York City owl, had rat poison in his system
Posted at 4:34 PM, Mar 25, 2024

Flaco, the iconic Eurasian eagle owl that died after colliding with a building in Manhattan last month, had underlying health conditions that could have contributed to the incident.

According to the Central Park Zoo, Flaco's autopsy results came back positive for "severe pigeon herpesvirus" from eating pigeons, as well as exposure to four types of rat poisons. 

"These factors would have been debilitating and ultimately fatal, even without a traumatic injury, and may have predisposed him to flying into or falling from the building," the zoo's press release stated. "The identified herpesvirus can be carried by healthy pigeons but may cause fatal disease in birds of prey including owls infected by eating pigeons. This virus has been previously found in New York City pigeons and owls. In Flaco’s case, the viral infection caused severe tissue damage and inflammation in many organs, including the spleen, liver, gastrointestinal tract, bone marrow, and brain."

Furthermore, the zoo states that testing showed that small amounts of DDE, a banned pesticide that was used to kill insects but remains in the environment, were also found in his system. 

Last month, Flaco met an unexpected end when he crashed into a building on West 89th Street. His death made headlines as he had become a beloved Big Apple icon after he escaped his vandalized Central Park Zoo enclosure last year, and was then often spotted living his best life roaming the city. 

SEE MORE: Fans mourn death of Flaco, beloved owl who escaped Central Park Zoo


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