Freya, the famous walrus, euthanized after crowds wouldn't stay away


Despite multiple warnings issued by authorities, people refused to keep their distance, and the beloved walrus was euthanized due to public safety concerns.

Freya, the 1,300-pound female walrus, stole hearts across the globe this summer when she became a media-sensation. This charismatic walrus was first spotted in mid-July off the coast of Oslo, Norway, but she had been tracked off the coasts of various European countries for the past two years.  

Typically found in large herds in the Arctic, this lone walrus was an unusual sight in Oslo

Freya went viral on social media after photos and videos of her climbing onto boats and piers to sunbathe and nap, and even sinking a few small boats, were shared. Her escapades captivated people, and everyone wanted to get a close look at this amazing animal.  

Unfortunately, they wanted to get too close.  

Freya deemed a public safety concern 

Freya became a public safety concern as people flocked to the walrus to watch her eat, sleep, and sunbathe. As a 1,300-pound wild animal with sharp tusks, she has the potential to cause serious damage and injury to people who get too close. 

Despite multiple warnings urging people to stay away, people continued to dangerously invade her space – attempting to swim with her and take photos with her, and in some cases, even throwing objects at her. 

While the Directorate of Fisheries in Norway initially stated that euthanasia would be the last option as walruses are a red-listed and protected species, the decision to euthanize quickly became a viable option as public safety concerns heightened and alternatives, such as relocation, were ruled out.  

There were also concerns about the animal’s wellbeing. With the constant attention and crowding, Freya was not getting enough rest and as a result, she was believed to be stressed and weakened.  

A walrus surrounded by human onlookers

A photo taken on August 10th, 2022, showing members of the public, including children, defying the distance recommendations and invading the walrus’s space. (Photo: Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries)

On Sunday, August 14th, 2022, Freya the walrus was euthanized.

This is yet another sad reminder that wild animals are wild, and we must treat them as such – giving them the space and respect they deserve. 

If people had heeded the warnings, and given Freya the appropriate space, she may still have been alive today.  

Sandra Jönsson, World Animal Protection Sweden´s Animal Welfare Advisor, Wildlife Sciences stressed that, 

"This is another sign that people risk loving wild animals to death. We need to learn to coexist with them. We cannot bathe with them, take selfies with them or ride them." 

A tweet from World Animal Protection’s CEO Steve McIvor emphasized that animals are sentient, living beings and we must consider their needs:

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