Freya the walrus put down due to fears for public safety

A popular walrus in the Norwegian capital has been put down by authorities due to fears she posed a risk to people.

Freya, a 600kg animal named after the Norse goddess of beauty and love, became known in recent weeks for antics including climbing onto small boats and sinking them.

Freya the walrus in Frognerkilen bay, Norway, 20 July 2022 (issued 24 July 2022). The marine mammal has been damaging and often sinking small boats anchored along the Nordic coast after trying to get on and relax on them.

Pic: Trond Reidar Teigen/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Fans had been warned not to get too close to her, and it was hoped that she would eventually leave of her own accord.

But Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries said she was put down early on Sunday “based on an overall assessment of the continued threat to human safety”.

“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,” a spokesperson said.

“Therefore, the directorate has concluded, the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained.”

The directorate said on Friday that there was evidence of people having thrown things at the walrus, bathed alongside her, and taken pictures near the edge of the water close to her.

The directorate’s head Frank Bakke-Jensen said other options were considered for Freya, including moving her to another place.

But it was decided this was not a viable option.

Pic: Norways' Directorate of Fisheries

Pic: Norway’s Directorate of Fisheries

‘I am firm that this was the right call’

Mr Bakke-Jensen said: “We have sympathies for the fact that the decision can cause reactions with the public, but I am firm that this was the right call.

“We have great regard for animal welfare, but human life and safety must take precedence.”

Walruses are a protected species and normally live in herds in the Arctic, further north.

It was thought that, as well as being far from her usual habitat, Freya was also stressed because she was not getting enough rest.

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