A look at NYC's most memorable animal celebrities

This weekend, New Yorkers mourned the loss of Flaco, a Eurasian Eagle-Owl that escaped captivity in Central Park and captured hearts all across the Big Apple.

But Flaco isn't the only one of New York City's non-human residents to find fame amidst the skyscrapers.

For instance, there are the innumerable celebrity rats that have appeared in recent years. Like pizza rat, bagel rat, and even donut rat.


And who needs to go all the way to Puxatawney, Pennsylvania, when we've got Staten Island Chuck, our very own weather-predicting groundhog whose relationship with city officials has been… complicated (A previous Staten Island Chuck bit former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while Mayor Bill de Blasio dropped another).


Going back further in time, in 1987, the Bronx Zoo arguably had two of the biggest celebrities in the city arrive when they welcomed pandas Ling-Ling and Yong-Yong from China. The adorable fuzzy bears became an instant sensation, attracting over a million visitors to the zoo that year. 


Speaking of melting hearts, Gus the Polar Bear became a household name, receiving therapy to cope with life in captivity and becoming a "symbol of the stress of living in New York City."


And remember that handsome Mandarin Duck that became an international celebrity when he landed at Central Park's pond in 2018? Nicknamed "Hot Duck" and "Mandarin Patinkin" by different NYC publications, the duck's fame led actress Bette Midler to publish a New York Times best-seller about him.

NEW YORK, NY - DECEMBER 26: The now famous Mandarin duck, nicknamed Mandarin Patinkin floats on a pond in Central Park on December 26, 2018 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Hershorn/Getty Images)


And long before the Hot Duck or Flaco flew into the city, there was Pale Male, a red-tailed hawk who made his nest on 5th Avenue, even fighting off eviction attempts by condo owners and construction workers alike. 

NEW YORK - DECEMBER 13: Famous red-tailed hawk Pale Male perches on a neighboring balcony overlooking Central Park after having his nest removed by building management last week December 13, 2004 in New York City. Angry bird lovers have intensified t


And finally, there's perhaps the most memorable wild New Yorker, a 425-pound tiger found inside a public housing apartment in Harlem in 2003. 

New York Police Department Officer Martin Duffy rappelled down the side of 2430 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd. in Harlem to tranquilize a 400-pound Bengal-Siberian tiger named Ming. (John Roca/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images)

Ming was a roughly three-year-old Siberian-Bengal tiger hybrid who lived illegally with his owner inside the Drew-Hamilton Houses. After his discovery and capture, Ming was sent to an animal sanctuary in Ohio, where he lived until he died in 2019.