Flaco mural vandalized, restored days after iconic NYC owl found dead

Just days after the death of New York City celebrity owl Flaco, a mural created in his honor has already become the target of vandals.

The Eurasian eagle-owl was found dead Friday on a sidewalk in Manhattan's Upper West Side, over a year after he escaped from the Central Park Zoo. After his escape, fans inside and outside of NYC cheered him on as he defied the odds by fending for himself despite a life in captivity.

Flaco's followers have written eulogies, proposed the construction of a statue, and -- in the case of artist Calicho Arevalo -- painted a mural.

Arevalo spray-painted the beloved bird on a wall in Lower East Side street-art destination Freeman Alley.

"When I knew he passed, I panicked," Arevalo told FOX 5 NY. "I was so sad, so I thought the minimum I could do was a tribute for him."

Calicho Arevalo's fixes his Flaco mural.

Yet over the weekend, X users tweeted that the mural had been defaced, with yellow-green spray paint obscuring Arevalo's colorful image of the bird emerging from the NYC skyline.

So Sunday morning, he returned to Freeman Alley with a can of spray paint.

"I put my hands to the cans, and I just wanted to make it even better," Arevalo said.

Arevalo started using the image of Flaco in his art last year after learning of the owl's escape. Flaco was freed from his cage at Central Park's zoo a little over a year ago by a vandal who breached a waist-high fence and cut a hole through a steel mesh cage. The owl had arrived at the zoo as a fledgling 13 years earlier.

Flaco sightings soon became sport. The majestic owl with a nearly 6-foot wingspan spent his days perched on tree branches, fence posts and fire escapes and nights hooting atop water towers and preying on the city’s abundant rats.

Arevalo's Flaco art includes images of the bird perched over NYC landmarks and street art of Flaco's wingspan designed for posing for Instagram photos.

He said he has no idea who vandalized his Lower East Side Flaco mural but promised to continue honoring Flaco's image.

"Flaco will live on through my art," he posted to Instagram.