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New York Grieves the Loss of Flaco, an Owl Who Captivated the City

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New York City was left in mourning after the tragic death of Flaco, the owl who had captured the hearts of residents and visitors alike. Known for his fiery-eyed gaze and independent spirit, Flaco’s life story was a testament to resilience and freedom in the bustling metropolis.

The news of Flaco’s passing spread quickly through the city, leaving many stunned and saddened by the loss of this beloved bird. Pjetar Nikac, the superintendent at 267 West 89th Street where Flaco was found, described the moment he discovered the injured owl in the courtyard as a day he would never forget.

Flaco, an Eurasian eagle-owl, had made headlines when he left the confines of the Central Park Zoo and ventured out into the urban wilderness of Manhattan. Despite facing numerous challenges, including vandalism to his enclosure, Flaco had managed to adapt and thrive in his new environment.

Unfortunately, Flaco’s journey came to a tragic end when he suffered acute traumatic injury that proved fatal. The outpouring of grief and tributes from the community highlighted the impact that this majestic bird had on so many lives.

In the aftermath of Flaco’s death, mourners gathered in Central Park to pay their respects and honor his memory. People from all walks of life came together, sharing stories of how Flaco had inspired them and brought them together in unexpected ways.

From artists creating murals to individuals writing poetry and songs, Flaco had become a muse for creativity and expression. His presence had touched the lives of many, offering a sense of freedom and possibility in a city known for its hustle and bustle.

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As the necropsy results revealed the extent of Flaco’s injuries, the reality of his loss set in for those who had come to know and love him. The symbolism of Flaco’s life and untimely death left a profound impact on all who had followed his remarkable journey.

Flaco’s legacy will live on in the hearts of those who were touched by his presence. From the streets of Manhattan to the parks of Brooklyn, his spirit will be remembered as a symbol of resilience and hope in the face of adversity.

As New York mourns the loss of Flaco, we are reminded of the beauty and fragility of life, and the impact that one creature can have on an entire city. Rest in peace, Flaco, you will be dearly missed.

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Chats and reflections on the present moment.

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Lydia Polgreen

Credit…Will Heath/NBC, via Getty Images

It is a rare thing in our rapidly secularizing country to be confronted with piety and devotion in popular culture. So it was a surprise, and a balm, to watch a man who prays daily and talks openly about his devout faith storm a bastion of earthly godlessness: “Saturday Night Live.”

I am referring, of course, to the comedian Ramy Youssef, who hosted the show on what he described in his opening monologue as “an incredibly spiritual weekend,” noting Ramadan, Easter and the arrival of a new Beyoncé album.

“I’m doing the Ramadan one,” he quipped, to peals of laughter, unspooling a very funny bit about how loving Muslims are. Youssef has mined his experience as a believer among the profane in gentle standup specials and a namesake sitcom. His entire monologue glowed with a welcoming warmth — Muslims, he seemed to say: We’re just like you.

In a country that is supposedly obsessed with diversity and inclusion, it is remarkable how rare it is to hear from a practicing Muslim in America.

Surveys by the Institute for Policy and Understanding, a nonpartisan research organization focused on Muslim Americans, have consistently found that Muslims are the most likely group to report religious discrimination in the United States. According to a Pew survey conducted in 2021, 78 percent of Americans said that there was either a lot or some discrimination against Muslims in our society. Muslims are no more likely to commit crimes than members of any other group, but crimes in which Muslims are suspects get outsized media coverage, research has shown.

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It is no surprise, then, that Islamophobia is perhaps the most tolerated form of religious prejudice. Right now, Senate Republicans appear to have persuaded several Senate Democrats to vote against a Muslim judicial nominee after smearing him, with no evidence at all, as an antisemite.

Many of the skits that toyed with religion on “S.N.L.” on Saturday were funny — Ozempic for Ramadan! Genius. But part of me winced through them as well, because I saw in Youssef something that other members of minority groups have had to do to “earn” their place in the safety of the mainstream: the performance of normalcy, of being nonthreatening and sweet, the requirement to prove that your community belongs in America just like everyone else’s.

I loved Youssef’s monologue, in which he bravely pleaded, “Please, free the people of Palestine. And please, free the hostages. All of the hostages.”

“I am out of ideas,” Youssef declared toward the end of his monologue. “All I have is prayers.”

To which this nonbeliever can only say: Same, Ramy. Same.

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