Officials euthanize Freya the walrus after her sunbathing and boat-sinking antics drew crowds of fans

  • Freya, a beloved boat-sinking walrus in Norway, was euthanized by authorities early Sunday.

  • Onlookers had taken to approaching the walrus, despite warnings to stay away.

  • Officials worried the 1,320-pound walrus posed a danger to those who gathered to watch her sunbathe.

Norwegian authorities on Sunday took the sad step of euthanizing Freya, a beloved boat-sinking walrus, after crowds of fans gathered too close to watch her sunbathe in the Oslo fjord.

The 1,320 lb walrus had become stressed by human visitors who had — despite warnings to stay away — taken to approaching her to pose for pictures. Officials grew concerned she may become aggressive or territorial and injure an onlooker.

Though officials previously called euthanasia "the last option" for managing the walrus, the decision to humanely kill the creature was made based on an "assessment of the continued threat to human safety," a Sunday statement from the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries read.

"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," Director General of Fisheries, Mr. Frank Bakke-Jensen, said in the statement. "Therefore, the Directorate has concluded, the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained."

Freya the walrus climbs into a boat in Frognerkilen bay, in Oslo, Norway July 20, 2022.
Freya the walrus climbs into a boat in Frognerkilen bay, in Oslo, Norway July 20, 2022.NTB/Trond Reidar Teigen via REUTERS

Officials considered relocating the walrus away from the Oslo fjord but determined it would be impossible to ensure her safety if they did, citing "several animal welfare concerns associated with a possible relocation."

"We have considered all possible solutions carefully," Bakke-Jensen said in a statement. "We concluded that we could not ensure the animal's welfare through any means available."

Freya was first seen in the area in 2019 and has reportedly been spotted in the UK, Denmark, Sweden, and the Netherlands, the BBC reported. She gained notoriety in July after being seen in Frognerkilen bay, in Oslo, Norway, climbing onto boats and partially capsizing them.

In the wild, walruses may live up to 40 years. Freya was estimated to be five years old.

"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," Bakke-Jensen said. "We have great regard for animal welfare, but human life and safety must take precedence."

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