Norwegian authorities have announced the euthanasia of a famous female walrus, affectionately nicknamed Freya after the Norse goddess of beauty. Freya the walrus, a protected species, captured public attention after being continually spotted lounging on small boats in the Oslo Fjord, with her enormous 600-kilogram (1,320-pound) weight often causing them to sink.
The procedure, which took place early Sunday morning, came as a result of growing public safety concerns. As Freya’s fame grew, people began gathering in large numbers to try and snap selfies with the hefty marine mammal, with some reports of people bathing alongside her and throwing objects at her.
With tusks that can grow up to one meter (3.28 feet) long, walruses can pose a significant threat to human life when disturbed. Despite the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries issuing over 10 public warnings to keep away from Freya, the increased public attention continued to pose a significant risk.
"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 for Directorate of Fisheries said in a statement, "Therefore, the directorate has concluded, the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained."
While relocation of the animal was considered, it was ultimately decided to not be a viable option, with the head of the directorate, Frank Bakke-Jensen proclaiming that euthanasia “was the right call.”
Since the announcement, people have taken to the internet to voice their outrage both with the decision to end Freya’s life, and the continued menace of the general public.
Twitter user Phil Demers, an activist against the mistreatment of walruses, described the event as “Abhorrent and unforgivable”, stating the behavior of the crowds provided the largest threat.
Photographer Greg Sheard shared his images of Freya, alongside a post blaming Freya’s untimely death on the decisions of Norwegian authorities.
In several Tweets posted by Blue Planet Society, a Marine Conservation Activist group, the blame was pinned purely on the decision of authorities to euthanize Freya, claiming the “fear for public safety” was a mere red herring.
In response to the decision to euthanize Freya, many have raised the comparison to Wally the walrus, who found fame in 2021 by traveling around Europe and napping on a number of docked vessels. Some areas created purpose-built pontoons for Wally to rest without disturbing private property and to keep him out of reach of his adoring fans. Despite being larger and potentially more dangerous than Freya, Wally was allowed to continue his sleepy tour without a threat to his life.