Freya the Walrus Euthanized

Her wellbeing and human wellbeing were both determined to be in danger
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 12, 2022 8:30 AM CDT
Updated Aug 15, 2022 12:11 AM CDT
Officials Urge Norwegians to Stay Away From Walrus
Norway's fisheries agency shared this photo of a crowd gathered near the walrus.   (Fiskeridirektorat)

(Newser) Update: The tragic ending authorities had warned of came to pass for Freya the walrus when she was euthanized early Sunday. The decision was made after authorities "concluded that we could not guarantee the wellbeing of the animal by any of the means available," said a Norway fisheries official. Authorities also concluded human safety was being endangered as well, since people refused to heed warnings to leave her alone, the Guardian reports. Says the official, per CBS News, "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." Our original story from Friday follows:

Freya, a young walrus who has strayed far from her species' usual Arctic habitat, has been winning hearts and sinking boats in the Oslo area for weeks. But authorities warn that her story will have a tragic ending if people don't leave her alone. Norway's Fisheries Directorate said Thursday that people have been ignoring warnings to stay away from the 1,300-pound animal and "several potentially dangerous situations" were observed in a swimming area this week, the Guardian reports.

The fisheries agency says crowds of people have gathered to look at Freya and people have been seen swimming near the walrus, bringing their children close to her to take pictures, and even throwing objects. "The public’s reckless behaviour and failure to follow authorities’ recommendations could put lives in danger," agency spokeswoman Nadia Jdaini said, per the Local. "We are now exploring other measures, and euthanasia may be a real alternative." Experts say that while walruses don't normally attack humans, people could be in danger if the animal feels threatened.

While Freya has often been spotted napping on boats, she's apparently not getting the 20 hours a day that walruses often sleep. "Her health has clearly declined," Jdaini said. "The walrus is not getting enough rest and the experts we have consulted now suspect that the animal is stressed." Jdaini said euthanasia is considered a last resort and authorities are also looking at moving Freya, though it's not clear where they would take her, Bergens Tidende reports. (Read more walruses stories.)

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