Despite numerous warnings, the public continued to get dangerously close to the walrus.
The euthanasia of a well-known female walrus popularly referred to as Freya after the Norse goddess of beauty has been officially declared by Norwegian authorities. The 600-kilogram (1,320-pound) Freya the walrus, a protected species, gained public notice after she was repeatedly seen relaxing on tiny boats in the Oslo Fjord and frequently caused them to drown due to her heavy weight.
The treatment, which was carried out early on Sunday morning, was prompted by rising worries about public safety. As Freya’s notoriety increased, crowds of people started converging to try to take pictures with the enormous marine creature, with some accounts of people swimming next to her and hurling objects at her.
The tusks of walruses, which may reach a length of one meter (3.28 feet), can develop to be very dangerous to humans if they are startled. Despite more than ten public cautions to stay away from Freya from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, the growing public attention posed a serious threat.
A spokesperson for the Directorate of Fisheries stated in a statement that “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.” As a result, the directorate “has concluded that the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained.”
Although transfer of the animal was taken into consideration, it was finally determined that it was not a practical alternative. Directorate head Frank Bakke-Jensen stated that euthanasia “was the appropriate call.”
People have used the internet to express their displeasure over the announcement to end Freya’s life as well as the ongoing threat posed by the general public.
An advocate for protecting walruses on Twitter named Phil Demers called the incident “Abhorrent and reprehensible,” noting that the crowd’s actions posed the biggest danger.
Photographer Greg Sheard posted pictures of Freya along with a commentary in which he blamed the actions of the Norwegian government for Freya’s unfortunate demise.
The euthanasia of Freya was solely blamed in a number of Tweets sent by the Blue Planet Society, a marine conservation activist group, who said that the “concern for public safety” was really a red herring.
Many have compared the decision to put Freya to death to that of Wally the walrus, who gained notoriety in 2021 by touring Europe and taking naps on several moored ships. For Wally to rest without damaging private property and to keep him away from his adoring audience, several places constructed specially designed pontoons. Wally was permitted to continue his sleeping trip unharmed despite being bigger and arguably more dangerous than Freya.