Walrus Freya killed by Norway gets Oslo sculpture

time:2023-06-08 23:29:54 source:The Washington Post

Norway's capital Oslo has unveiled a statue of a walrus who was a popular attraction but was then put down because of public safety concerns.

The life-size bronze sculpture depicts Freya lying on her side on a shore.

"This is how humans treat wild nature, but it is also how humans treat humans. This is how we treated Freya. And so, I will call the statue For Our Sins," creator Astri Tonoian said.

An online campaign earlier raised $25,000 (£19,900) to make the statue.

"I started this because I'm furious about the way the [Norwegian] Fisheries Directorate and the state handled this situation," campaign organiser Erik Holm told the AFP news agency.

Freya - who weighed about 600kg (1,300lb) - was put down last August, triggering criticism across the Nordic nation.

The mammal rose to fame after clambering onto boats to sunbathe - sometimes sinking them.

The local authorities later said people had ignored warnings not to get too close to the animal, putting her and themselves at risk.

On one occasion, police blocked off a bathing area after the walrus chased a woman into the water, local media reported at the time.

Norway's fisheries ministry also issued a photograph of a large group of people, including children, standing within touching distance of the animal.

The director general of fisheries, Frank Bakke-Jensen, said the decision to put the animal down had been 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. Therefore, the directorate has concluded, the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained," Mr Bakke-Jensen said.

The operation to euthanise her had been carried out "in a humane fashion", with the body taken for further examination by vets, he said.

Freya, first spotted in Oslo in mid-July, was named after the Norse goddess of beauty and love.

A protected species, walruses normally live further north in the Arctic.

They do not usually attack humans, but there have been some rare incidents.

At a wildlife park in China in 2016, a tourist and a zookeeper were killed by a walrus. The tourist had reportedly been taking selfies with the creature when he was grabbed and pulled underwater, while the keeper went in to rescue him but was also pulled under.

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