NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- Rescuers are trying to capture an owl that went missing from the Central Park Zoo on Thursday night.
The Eurasian eagle owl named Flaco was set free after the exhibit was vandalized and the stainless steel mesh was cut, the zoo said.
The owl was spotted on Fifth Avenue and East 60th Street at around 9 p.m. Thursday. The police were called and Emergency Services officers attempted to get it in a cage, but the owl flew off.
Edmund Berry, who is a bird watcher and photographer, saw Flaco near Pulitzer Fountain at Grand Army Plaza, near Central Park at 11:30 p.m. Thursday night.
Zoo staff located the owl perched in a tree and stayed with it throughout the night. At sunrise Friday morning, the owl flew from the tree on 5th Avenue and into Central Park where the zoo said it has visual contact.
"Our focus and effort at this time is on the safe recovery of the owl," Central Park Zoo said in a statement.
Multiple agencies are currently assisting attempts to bring the owl down from the tree in the southeast corner of the park near the Hallett Nature Sanctuary, just north of east 59th street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues.
Expert David Barrett, creator and manager of Manhattan Bird Alert, said Flaco should be able to handle the cold, but after a decade in captivity he may lack the skill to catch prey on his own in the wild. He needs to be rescued and fed.
Flaco is a predator owl with a large wingspan and talons as sharp as razor blades -- so there is no catching him until he wants to be caught.
On Friday, he appeared to be enjoying his place at the top of the Central Park food chain -- looking down on all the commotion he was causing.
The mayor's office incorrectly tweeted "New York's Finest saves one of New York's Flyest when an owl was trapped on 60th and 5th avenue!"
The 19th Precinct also tweeted: "Well, that was a hoot. We tried to help this lil wise guy, but he had enough of his growing audience & flew off. @NYCParks Rangers, be on the lookout - he was last seen flying south on 5th Avenue."
It is not known why the vandals set the owl free from the zoo, which is home to several species of owl.
The following statement was issued by Central Park Zoo:
"A Eurasian eagle owl at Central Park Zoo was discovered missing from its exhibit at 8:30 p.m. Thursday evening. The exhibit had been vandalized and the stainless steel mesh cut. Upon notification, a team was mobilized to search for the bird. Citizens and police spotted the owl on the sidewalk on 5th Avenue but it flew off. Zoo staff located the owl perched in a tree near the zoo and stayed with it throughout the night. At sunrise this morning, the owl flew from the tree on 5th Avenue and into Central Park where we continue to have visual contact with the bird. Our focus and effort at this time is on the safe recovery of the owl. We will issue updates as needed."
ALSO READ | Whale found dead at Lido Beach in Nassau County