Walruses that drew crowds into Oslo’s fjord euthanized
A walrus nicknamed Freya that attracted crowds while basking in the Oslo fjord was euthanized on Sunday, with Norwegian officials saying it was the only option, but experts slammed an “infinitely sad” decision.
“The decision to euthanize was made on the basis of a global assessment of the ongoing threat to human security,” Norwegian fisheries director Frank Bakke-Jensen said in a statement.
“We carefully examined all possible solutions. We came to the conclusion that we could not guarantee the welfare of the animal with any of the available resources,” he said.
Officials had previously said they were considering euthanasia because repeated calls to the public to keep their distance from the young woman who weighed 600 pounds had been unsuccessful and she was experiencing undue stress.
Freya, whose name is a reference to the Norse goddess of beauty and love, had been making headlines since July 17 when she was first spotted in the waters of the Norwegian capital.
Walruses normally live in the even more northerly latitudes of the Arctic.
Between long naps in the sun — a walrus can sleep up to 20 hours a day — Freya has been filmed chasing a duck, attacking a swan and, more often than not, dozing on boats struggling to carry her mass.
Despite repeated calls, curious onlookers continued to approach the mammal, sometimes with children in tow, to take pictures.
Experts said the decision to euthanize Freya did not take into account the animal’s welfare.
Siri Martinsen, a spokeswoman for animal rights group NOAH, told TV2 television that the move was hasty and fines should have been issued to disperse the spectators.
“It’s very shocking,” she added, saying it was an opportunity to show people how they respect wildlife.
“It’s infinitely sad that they chose to euthanize such a beautiful animal simply because we didn’t handle it properly,” biologist Rune Aae told NTB news agency.
The Green Party said earlier this week that experts recommended giving Freya sedatives and moving her away from populated areas, or returning her to the remote Svalbard archipelago.
But Bakke-Jensen said that was “not a viable option” because such an operation would be too complex.
Freya, estimated to be around five years old, had already been spotted in the UK, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and chose to spend part of the summer in Norway.
Freya first rose to fame in Norway climbing on pleasure boats in Kragero, an idyllic southern coastal town.
The walrus is a protected species that mainly feeds on invertebrates such as mollusks, shrimps, crabs and small fish.
Walruses do not normally behave aggressively towards humans, but they can feel threatened by intruders and attacks.
An operation this week to rescue a beluga stranded in the Seine in France also ended up killing the animal.
France prepares rescue of beluga to go astray in Seine
© 2022 AFP
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