A walrus that has become a tourist attraction in Norway has been euthanized after people repeatedly ignored requests to stay away.
The 600kg animal, named Freya, became a social media sensation over the summer after a series of viral videos surfaced of her jumping onto boats to sunbathe – sometimes even capsizing her in the process.
Unlike most other walruses, Freya was not afraid of humans, and her antics would lure large groups of humans into the Oslofjord, putting them and her in danger.
Last week, the Norwegian Fisheries Agency warned the public to keep their distance after reports of people swimming with the walrus, throwing objects at them and getting dangerously close to pose for photos.
Police once had to cordon off a bathing area after the walrus chased a woman into the water, according to local media.
Eventually, management made the decision to put Freya to sleep after an image emerged of her surrounded by a crowd, including several children.
“The decision to euthanize the walrus was made based on an overall assessment of the ongoing threat to human security,” Frank Bakke-Jensen, director-general of the Norwegian Fisheries Agency, said in a statement.
“Observations on the ground over the past week have shown that the public has disregarded the current recommendation to keep a clear distance from the walrus,” he continued.
“Therefore, Management concluded that the possibility of potential harm to humans was high and animal welfare was not being upheld.”
He added that other options had been considered, including moving Freya out of the fjord, but they were scrapped out of concern for Freya’s welfare.
Freya, named after the Norse goddess of beauty and love, has been making headlines since she was first spotted in the Norwegian capital in July.
Although they typically live in the Arctic Circle, walruses typically migrate between various shallow bodies of water during the summer months, and Freya was spotted in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden earlier this year before eventually making her way to Oslo.
Usually, walruses are suspicious of humans and stick to the edges of coastal areas.
“Walruses usually show up on some islands, but they’ll disappear pretty soon because they’re scared of humans,” said Rune Aae, a biology professor who studied Freya’s movements.
But Freya “is not afraid of people,” he added. “Actually, I think she likes people. So that’s why she’s not going.”
In a Facebook post following Freya’s death, Aae condemned the directorate as “too hasty” in their decision to blast her.
He said they had their own boat tracking their movements and that upcoming rains would drive away crowds and give Freya a chance to venture out of the fjord on her own.
“Freya would have gotten out of the Oslofjord sooner or later, as all previous experience has shown, so killing her was completely unnecessary in my view,” he wrote.
“Norway is the country that killed Freya after circling the entire North Sea for over two years. Pity!’
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/08/15/norway-euthanises-freya-the-walrus-after-people-refuse-to-stay-away-17183195/ Norway kills the walrus Freya after people refuse to stay away