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The WCS announced late in the evening on February 23, 2024, that Flaco passed away after a collision…

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why-animals-do-the-thing:

spyglassrealms:

derinthescarletpescatarian:

dduane:

I for one welcome our new strygine overlord. :)

Backstory: This gentleman escaped from Central Park Zoo in March after his enclosure there was vandalized, and there was a lot of concern over whether or not he could/would survive out of captivity. Unconcerned by this, Flaco settled himself in a particular area of Central Park and spent all the spring, summer, and most of the fall eating large numbers of rats, and genially allowing himself to be photographed by an ever-growing cadre of bird paparazzi.

Then a few weeks ago, possibly irked by repeated mobbing by assorted hawks and corvids, Flaco took off from his normal haunts and went on a brief tour of apartment-building courtyards on the Lower East Side. Now he’s on the Upper West Side, within sight of Central Park (so food’s no problem, should he feel like heading back that way to hunt), and shouting for everybody to hear that he owns the place. The image above shows him on the water tower of an apartment building at 86th and CPW.

If you look back through the Manhattan Bird Alert and Above 96th Twitter feeds, you’ll see many splendid pictures of him. He’s a handsome lad, and it’s good to see him thriving.

What’s in his future? Hard to tell. (Though some people on Twitter are suggesting he should run for mayor.) He may head upstate at some point. But he may decide he’s quite happy to be a Manhattanite. As a fellow one, I wish him very well. :)

I love that an animal escaped from the zoo and everyone just went “no let’s see where he’s going with this”

as someone who has actually tried to get an unflighted adult Eurasian eagle owl back into his box while actually having a good grip on him, I can tell you with reasonable certainty there is no damn way they were ever going to catch him again.

This whole situation is one of the things that really makes me want to be a fly on the wall inside AZA accreditation meetings. Central Park Zoo is AZA, and it’s unbelievable that somehow they’ve faced no real problems with compliance for just… not managing to catch a loose escaped collection animal. Especially one that’s large, non-native, and highly charismatic.

A big part of AZA standards is that if animals leave a zoo’s control, the zoo is responsible for ensuring that the new location is providing appropriate care for the animal. If they don’t, they can get in a lot of trouble for irresponsibly disposing of them. “Oops, we lost him in NYC” does not exactly count. Regardless of the practicality of catching him at this point, I can’t overstate how much it would be such a huge deal if this happened at a non-AZA zoo - like I would 110% percent expect AZA’a CEO to make derogatory statements to the media about how irresponsible and unprofessional it is for a theoretical roadside zoo to just lose an animal like that and then choose to abandon him to fend for himself, etc etc. But because Central Park is AZA, I guess there’s just different rules? And AZA seems to be just fine with Flaco being loose and risking all sorts of possible harmful welfare and health impacts. Now, AZA makes all accreditation stuff proprietary, so maybe Central Park has gotten their hand slapped out of public view but… the whole thing just seemingly being NBD is mind blowing.

If Flaco were to escape now - in late 2023 - and not be recaptured, I’m pretty sure would actually be USDA violation for the zoo. Yet his escape in February 2023 wasn’t, by virtue of a timing loophole and the fact that new regulations have some lag time built in before compliance is mandatory. USDA finally expanded their remit to birds in addition to mammals, and the new rules were promulgated in Feb 2023! But facilities with existing licenses had until August to get into compliance. Which means, basically, that both the regulatory mechanism and the accrediting ones meant to ensure that the zoo actually is fully responsible for Flaco didn’t work. AZA because they just dgaf, and USDA because it happened just before they actually had the necessary jurisdiction.

The WCS announced late in the evening on February 23, 2024, that Flaco passed away after a collision with a building.

Their press release went on to state that:

“The downed owl was reported to the Wild Bird Fund (WBF) by people in the building. Staff from the WBF quickly responded, retrieved the non-responsive owl and declared him dead shortly afterward. The WBF notified zoo staff who picked up the bird and transported him to the Bronx Zoo for necropsy.”

I don’t have a lot of words: I’m angry and yet also unsurprised. Reducing the risk of window collisions is crucial for protecting all urban birds; but Flaco’s story is about much more than that. His life was originally endangered by the person who cut open his exhibit and set him loose. The birding community in NYC made it worse: by romanticizing the idea of “freedom” and buying into the fallacy that “natural” and “wild” are inherently somehow better for animals - regardless of what they have ever known, or might prefer - their actions contributed to depriving him of many more years of a good, safe, captive life.

Instead. Flaco, a member of a species that regularly lives to 20 years in the wild and three times that in human care is dead at 13 because of anthropomorphism, selfishness, and a local community’s refusal to listen to scientific experts. He lived one fifth of his potential lifespan and he died on the pavement after colliding with a structure he had no capacity to understand, much less the ability to avoid.

The WCS has stated they will conduct a necropsy (animal autopsy) and will share additional information that results from it. That data will tell us which narrative is true: if he really was thriving as a “wild” bird in a foreign and adversarial habitat as so many fans claimed - or if, as so many scientists and animal care experts have expressed concerns about, he was ingesting rodenticide from eating city rats and struggling to stay healthy.

@honkifurhoary summarized the situation well in their tweets (emphasis mine):

“Flaco’s premature death was an inevitability as soon as his enclosure was vandalized. The people who sabotaged recapture efforts, instead of investing resources to help his recapture & improve his habitat, further guaranteed it. This wasn’t freedom. This was human failure. So much suffering is caused by humans anthropomorphizing wildlife. This is no exception.”

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sillygwailo
8 days ago
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On Flaco's needlessly premature death.
Toronto, ON
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Good Books for Men, by Women

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I love a turkey sandwich. To me, it’s a no-brainer order at lunchtime, or when I’m home digging through the refrigerator for something to make. It’s a default for me in a way that roast...

The post Good Books for Men, by Women appeared first on Style Girlfriend.

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sillygwailo
15 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Ten Years of Winter Stations

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Amidst a record-breaking spell of winter heat, Winter Stations, the longtime East End project created to enliven the deepest cold snaps, is opening its tenth annual installation along Woodbine Beach. On February 19th, nine pavilions on the beach itself, and three additional installations on Queen St. East, will open to the public. Drawing inspiration from Winnipeg’s Warming Stations, in 2014 RAW Design partnered with Ferris + Associates and Curio to bring the city back to the beaches during their winter hibernation. The annual exhibition, now organized by RAW, reanimates the beaches’ lifeguard towers with temporary structures inviting interaction and contemplation. From its simple roots with heavy community organizational involvement, Winter Stations has grown into a fixture of Toronto’s art and design scene, engaging an international group of designers and bringing life to a seasonally underused public space.

For this year’s competition, hundreds of designers, artists, and architects from across the world, along with Canadian architecture and design students, submitted their proposals responding to the theme, Resonance. Beyond a sonic interpretation, the organizers intended to encourage retrospection through the diverse Winter Stations archive and reflection on the challenges and opportunities of an exposed, public site in a (usually) harsh climate.

Flipping back through the Winter Stations archive, the sheer variety of approaches to public engagement is impressive. Organizer Dakota Wares-Tani, a design architect at RAW, sees this variety as one of the program’s successes, one especially important to successfully engaging with a wide range of visitors, both young and old. “There’s a fine balance between something that is explicitly predictable to interact with or more nuanced and subtle,” she explained, adding that some of the most successful stations have required more than surface-level interaction to understand. “Stations that have a subtle way of repositioning the city or the beach” — as in 2022’s Enter-face, which literally “reframed” these views — bring visitors deeper into the beach without motion or noise, returning to the original aim of the project to “come back to the beach.” Ultimately, Wares-Tani found that a diverse jury of artists, architects, designers, and writers, produced a diversity of projects that could speak to an audience beyond the design community.

Enter-face (2022, by MELT) framed two opposite views to the beach and the city skyline. (Photo by Winter Stations)
Enter-face (2022, by MELT) framed two opposite views to the beach and the city skyline. (Photo by Winter Stations)

From a designer’s perspective, the practical concerns of the site and short timeline drive many of the creative decisions for each pavilion. Student teams, who unlike the professional teams work with a limited budget and fabricate their own pavilions, have additional constraints to consider. When I spoke with Max Perry, a member of the University of Waterloo Department of Architecture student team, he also pointed to material issues as a primary concern. Many short-term installations “go up for a week and then all that material comes down and goes into the trash,” creating a disproportionate environmental impact.

In response to this, the Waterloo team designed with the intention of disassembling their pavilion, which includes large amounts of salvaged material donated by Ouroboros Deconstruction, and reusing its components in future projects. When drawing inspiration from previous stations, Perry said the team of grad students “liked the pavilions that were kind of fun, and encouraged people to use them instead of just look at them.” The challenge of the design process was to balance this desire for interaction with a need to limit the technology of the project. Limited moving parts hopefully “allow room for ambition but also build in room for failure.”

University of Waterloo students' entry Bobbin' will be disassembled and reused in the spring. (Image by the University of Waterloo team)
University of Waterloo students’ entry Bobbin’ will be disassembled and reused in the spring. (Image by the University of Waterloo team)

Wares-Tani also reflected on the material impacts of the installations, two of which have been pulled from the Winter Stations archive and will be directly reused this year. “At the beginning there was hope to reuse or dismantle the installations,” which was a requirement of the design brief for several years. Now she hopes that the afterlife of the stations can be tied into local material salvage operations, but the “cloud-based” organization’s lack of physical headquarters or storage space makes this a complex ambition.

Conrad (2023, by Novak Djogo and Daniel Joshua Vanderhorst) is one of two stations returning from the archive. (Photo by Jonathan Sabeniano)
Conrad (2023, by Novak Djogo and Daniel Joshua Vanderhorst) is one of two stations returning from the archive. (Photo by Jonathan Sabeniano)

Looking back on the photos of the first Winter Stations in 2014, with Woodbine Beach shrouded in thick snow and ice, both Wares-Tani and Perry were struck by the way the winter setting has changed along with the stations. Ten years of climate change makes these scenes feel almost painfully nostalgic, but Wares-Tani is optimistic that designers will adapt to the changing nature of winter itself. Many of the previous themes have sparked pavilions with political and social messages, and the international competition participants often tackle global as well as local issues.

Engaging with the physical and human context of the project has produced mixed results. 2019’s Migration theme successfully linked into a citizenship ceremony on the beach, but many weather-dependent projects over the years have fallen short of their ambitions during several successive warm and dry winters. While this year’s entry Nimbus prompts visitors to consider increasing drought across the globe, Wares-Tani predicts that more future entries will address the climate itself: “This year has become the most alarming year, so I would anticipate that next year and in the years coming it would become more of a prevalent consideration.”

Considering its informal beginnings and shifting cast of sponsors, contributors, and organizers, Wares-Tani emphasized that the first success of Winter Stations is its own continued existence: “It’s been incredible that RAW has kept it going for so long, and we have community support from city staff and community organizations – it will definitely keep going.”

The post Ten Years of Winter Stations appeared first on Spacing Toronto.

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sillygwailo
15 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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People and Blogs

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Through his weekly People and Blogs newsletter, Manuel Moreale is emerging as a sort of “Aslan of the small web.”

With Phil Gyford, whose ooh.directory is an old-style-Yahoo! directory of “blogs about every topic,” Kagi’s Small Web search, and Marginalia’s search, the personal, non-commercial, passionate part of the web—what you might call “the old web,” or “the web before capitalism blotted out the sun”—is re-emerging from under the bushel basket that Google’s search algorithm has imposed on it in recent years.

(Here’s a fun way to spend an afternoon: enter a word, any old word, into a Kagi search, and flip the “Small Web” toggle. I guarantee you will find interesting things: here’s a recipe for Brussels Sprout Fried Rice and here’s a post about walking through Bulgaria, for example.)

Which is all a circuitous way of announcing that I’m proud to be included in People and Blogs myself this week. I enjoyed the process of answering Manuel’s questions about my blog and my blogging, and the chance to remind myself why and how much I have loved—do love—this space.

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sillygwailo
16 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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Add To Wantlist

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Music worth exploring. By Dennis, Nick.

Started in 2020. Average 80 words.

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sillygwailo
22 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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I watched “Union Street” tonight, a documentary about Vancouver’s historically b...

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I watched “Union Street” tonight, a documentary about Vancouver’s historically black neighborhood of Strathcona.

Rather than being focused on displacement, it features a number of great local makers.

The Georgia Straight has a write up. Recommended!

#Vancouver #EastVan #movie #Strathcona

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mkalus
3 days ago
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iPhone: 49.287476,-123.142136
sillygwailo
27 days ago
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Toronto, ON
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