A walrus on the shore of Scarborough, UK, in December brought visitors from far and wide to view the magnificent marine mammal that was a long way from home. However, late-night visitors to Thor, as the walrus has been nicknamed, got ring-side seats to an unexpected pinniped peep show as it took the opportunity to masturbate. That’s one way to leave a lasting impression.
Thor’s trip to Scarborough saw the town cancel its New Year’s Eve fireworks display in order to protect the mammal. A move that was celebrated by many for prioritizing the wellbeing of wildlife over human entertainment.
The walrus first made an appearance on December 30 after which a cordon was set up to keep him safe. At some point during his rest stop, it seems the animal felt no pressure from the many watching eyes as it began masturbating with a flipper.
You might think the behavior crass, but it’s common across many wild species. Thor could even be congratulated for practicing some restraint, as some walruses have been observed practicing oral sex on themselves.
Masturbation has also been observed among wild primates, horses, and squirrels. Some animals have even been observed using objects to get the job done, like this wild chimp that got creative with a discarded plastic bottle.
Evidently the plan to cancel the fireworks for Thor’s comfort left him feeling relaxed enough to masturbate, but unfortunately for the town, he had made his exit before the turn of the new year. Thor’s episode of indecent exposure in a public place might have left him a little red-faced and fleeing for Blyth, over 100 kilometers north, but he fared better than Freya, a walrus that was euthanized in Norway back in August over public safety concerns.
Walruses are usually found further in the ice-covered waters off the coasts of Canada, Greenland, Norway, and Russia. Their increasing presence in European habitats may be the result of climate change destroying the sea ice they usually depend on to feed and reproduce.
Disappearing sea ice has seen walruses gather in their thousands on beaches in Alaska. Such large gathers on land can be catastrophic, as smaller walruses risk being injured or killed in stampedes in even small gatherings. In large numbers, the arrival of a polar bear could cause many deaths within a group.
As the climate crisis continues, Europe could see more and more of these animals seeking refuge or release, if y’know what we’re saying…