Norway euthanises celebrity walrus Freya after the public refused to keep their distance

By Sam Wareing

Published Aug 15, 2022 at 12:38 PM

Reading time: 1 minute

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A 1,300-pound walrus named Freya—nicknamed after the Norse Goddess of beauty and love—has been killed by Norwegian authorities after being declared a threat to human safety.

Freya had been delighting tourists and locals alike over the summer. From lounging about on boats and basking in the sun on Oslo piers, she had made quite an impact—with some media outlets calling 2022 her “hot girl summer” and Norwegian publication Verdens Gang even setting up a 24-hour live camera to film the new celebrity’s comings and goings.

However, the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries has said the decision to euthanise the creature on Sunday 14 August came after numerous warnings were ignored by the public to keep their distance from Freya.

In a statement, head of the directorate, Frank Bakke-Jensen said: “I am firm that this was the right call. We have great regard for animal welfare, but human life and safety must take precedence.”

The news of Frey’s euthanisation caused immediate backlash on several social media platforms, with many believing the people were to blame and not the walrus. One Twitter user wrote, “Shame on you #Norway. In the scheme of things the walrus was in her right environment… the pestering people were the ones you needed to chase. This was unforgivable.”

Bakke-Jensen disagreed with this outcry and said that the option of moving Freya had been thoroughly considered with help from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research. According to the official, the complexity of the operation meant that “this was not a viable option.”

In recent video footage, three people on a jet-ski were seen pulling up mere feet from a boat where Freya was napping, while several onlookers watched from a jetty. Officials have also previously posted images of scores of people crowding Freya on a pier only a few feet away from her.

“Through on-site observations the past week it was made clear that the public has disregarded the current recommendation to keep a clear distance to the walrus,” Bakke-Jensen said in the statement. “The possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained,” he added.

Rune Aae, a researcher at the University of South-Easter Norway who had been using a Facebook group called ‘Freya the walrus—where is she now?’ to track the animal’s movements, has criticised Norway’s decision to euthanise her as “hasty” and “completely unnecessary.”

In other news, a walrus nicknamed Wally had been seen off the coast of Britain last year, and was thought to have made it all the way to northern Spain before heading back to the Arctic.

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