OSLO, Norway — A 1,320-pound walrus that had drawn crowds in Oslo was euthanized by Norwegian officials on Sunday after they decided that the animal posed a risk to humans.
Freya had become a crowd favorite in the Oslo Fjord, but authorities worried that people were getting too close to the animal, according to The Associated Press.
The marine mammal had a penchant for climbing onto boats to sunbathe, sometimes sinking the vessels, the BBC reported.
People were swimming near Freya and throwing objects at her, Vegard Oen Hatten, a spokesman for the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries, told The New York Times on Friday. People were taking photographs with the walrus, sometimes including their children in the picture while moving dangerously close to her, according to the newspaper.
The agency said in a statement that a decision to euthanize Freya was “based on an overall assessment of the continued threat to human safety.”
“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,” said Frank Bakke-Jensen, the director general of the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries. “Therefore, the Directorate has concluded, the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained.”
Female walruses can weigh as much as a ton, Nadia Jdaini, another spokesperson for the agency, told CNN in an email.
“She’s not aggressive,” Rune Aae, who teaches biology at the University of South-Eastern Norway, told the Times on Friday. “But if she wants to play with you, you will lose, no matter what happens.”
Freya was first spotted in Oslo in July, the BBC reported. She was named after the Norse goddess of beauty and love.
A protected species, walruses do not usually attack humans. At a wildlife park in China in 2016, a tourist and a zookeeper were killed, the news organization reported. The tourist was taking selfies with the walrus when he was grabbed and pulled underwater, according to the BBC. The zookeeper attempted to rescue the tourist but was also killed by the animal.
There are more than 25,000 Atlantic walruses that live in the cold waters near Norway, Russia, Greenland and Canada, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
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