Norwegian authorities say they are considering killing a walrus that has won hearts in the Oslofjord sun over the danger to the public and themselves from tourists.
Despite repeated calls for the public to keep their distance from the walrus — a young female weighing 600 kg (1,300 pounds) nicknamed Freya — the mammal continues to draw large crowds, the fisheries directorate said.
It released a photo of a group of onlookers huddled near the animal. “The public’s reckless behavior and failure to follow the authorities’ recommendations could put lives at risk,” said Nadia Jdaini, a spokeswoman for the Fisheries Agency.
“We are now considering other measures and euthanasia could be a real alternative.”
Freya, named after the Norse goddess of beauty and love, has been making headlines since July 17 when she was first spotted in the waters of the Norwegian capital.Freya boards a boat in Frognerkilen Bay in Oslo. Photo: NTB/Portal
Walruses typically live in the even more northerly latitudes of the Arctic.
Between long naps — a walrus can sleep up to 20 hours a day — Freya was filmed chasing a duck, attacking a swan and mostly dozing on boats struggling to carry her bulk.
Pictures of her climbing onto seagoing vessels have sparked a wave of admiration on Twitter. As one marine biologist put it in a video about Freya, “Seeing a walrus on land is like watching a cow in a sleeping bag.”
If you’re having a bad day, try going on Youtube and searching for “Freya Walrus Norway”.
This majestic creature is now my spirit animal Lmao. https://t.co/oEbASxiCM6
— Zakwan Khidzir (@zakwan_khidzir) August 7, 2022
Amid concerns that the famous walrus could be euthanized, some have urged people to heed authorities’ advice and leave Freya alone so she can live.
I’ll be so angry when Freya (our famous walrus) gets put down because people bother her while she doesn’t listen to the “leave her alone” advice
— Mali (@maliramsfjell) August 11, 2022
Despite the recommendations, some onlookers have repeatedly approached her, sometimes with children in tow, for photos.
“Her health has clearly deteriorated,” Jdaini said. “The walrus is not getting enough rest and the experts we consulted now suspect the animal is stressed.”
Walruses are a protected species and typically eat molluscs, small fish, shrimp and crabs.
They don’t usually attack humans, but may do so if they feel threatened, authorities say.