(NEW YORK) — A large owl is on the loose from the Central Park Zoo after its exhibit was vandalized, zoo officials said.
A Eurasian eagle owl at the Manhattan zoo was discovered missing from its exhibit at 8:30 p.m. Thursday, zoo officials said.
“The exhibit had been vandalized and the stainless steel mesh cut,” the Central Park Zoo said in a statement.
A zoo team has been searching for the bird, one of the largest species of owl, ever since.
Citizens and police spotted it Thursday night on the sidewalk several blocks from the zoo. Officers from the NYPD’s Emergency Services Unit attempted to get it in a cage, though the owl flew off.
“Well, that was a hoot,” the NYPD’s 19th Precinct tweeted. “We tried to help this lil wise guy, but he had enough of his growing audience & flew off.”
The New York City Mayor’s Office erroneously tweeted that the bird had been saved while sharing photos of it on the sidewalk near a cage.
The owl remained perched in a tree near the zoo overnight before flying off into Central Park Friday morning “where we continue to have visual contact with the bird,” zoo officials said.
Multiple agencies are currently assisting in attempts to bring the owl, named Flaco, down from a tree in the southeast corner of the park near an area known as the Hallett Nature Sanctuary.
“Our focus and effort at this time is on the safe recovery of the owl,” the zoo said.
The owl’s escape comes following reports of vandalism and missing animals at other zoos in the U.S.
On Friday, Dallas police arrested a man in connection with the theft of two emperor tamarin monkeys from the Dallas Zoo. The case of the missing monkeys, which were found safe on Tuesday a day after they were discovered missing, marked the latest in a string of suspicious activity under investigation at the zoo.
Also, 12 squirrel monkeys were stolen from Zoosiana, a Louisiana zoo, shortly before midnight on Saturday. The thief evidently brought tools to cut the wire, break locks and destroy the enclosure. The monkeys remain missing.
ABC News’ Mark Crudele and Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.
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