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Norway euthanizes beloved 600-kilogram walrus named Freya


The walrus Freya had been hanging out in the Oslo Fjord and many people interacted with her, something authorities said should not be done because they were at risk.

Here you can sleep with bears and eat with walruses 0:52

(CNN) --

The Norwegian government euthanized the notorious walrus Freya early Sunday morning, after warning the public to stay away from her.

"The decision to euthanize the walrus was based on an overall assessment of the continuing threat to human safety," Frank Bakke-Jensen, director general of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, said in a press release.

Freya became a social media sensation this summer, Rune Aae, who teaches biology at the University of Southeastern Norway and runs a Google map of Freya sightings, told CNN.

The young female walrus had been spending time in Oslo Fjord, an inlet on the country's southeastern coast, and she apparently wasn't afraid of humans, unlike most walruses.

Several popular videos show the walrus climbing into small boats to bask in the sun.

Last week, management warned the public to stay away from Freya, saying they had seen visitors swimming with Freya, throwing objects at her and getting dangerously close to take photos.

"The public has disregarded the current recommendation to keep a clear distance from the walrus," Nadia Jdaini, a spokeswoman for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told CNN in an email.

Previously, management told CNN it was considering multiple solutions, including relocating Freya outside the fjord.

But "the sheer complexity of such an operation led us to conclude that it was not a viable option," Bakke-Jensen said in the news release.


"We understand that the decision may cause reactions in the public, but I am convinced that it was the right decision," continued Bakke-Jensen.

"We take animal welfare very seriously, but people's lives and safety must come first."

Management included in its statement a photo of a large crowd apparently just meters from Freya.

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Female walruses weigh between 600 and 900 kilograms, or 1,300 to 2,000 pounds, Jdaini said.

According to the World Wide Fund for Nature, there are more than 25,000 Atlantic walruses in the icy waters of Canada, Greenland, Norway and Russia.

These marine mammals migrate along the coast to feed on mollusks and other invertebrates in shallow water.

These marine mammals are generally wary of humans and stick to the outer edges of the Norwegian coast.

Aae, the biology professor who tracked down the Freya sightings, said the last time a walrus was documented this far south of the North Sea was in 2013. "It's not at all common," he said, prompting crowds of Norwegians. come to see Freya.

"Normally walruses show up on some islands, but they leave very soon, because they are afraid of people," Aae said.

But Freya "is not afraid of people," she said.

"Actually, I think she likes people. So that's why she's not leaving."

Freya rests on a boat at Frognerkilen in Oslofjord, Norway, on July 19, 2022.

In a Facebook post following the announcement of Freya's death, Aae called management's decision to euthanize her "too rash."

She said that the fishing staff were monitoring her with a patrol boat to ensure the safety of the public and that she would probably leave the fjord soon, as she had done on her previous visits in the spring.

Freya would have "emerged sooner or later from the Oslofjord, as all previous experience has shown, so euthanasia was, in my opinion, completely unnecessary," he wrote.

"What a shame!".


Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-08-14

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