Freya attracted crowds while basking in the Oslo fjord was euthanised, with Norway officials saying it was the only option but experts slamming an "infinitely sad" decision.
A walrus nicknamed Freya that attracted crowds while basking in the Oslo fjord has been euthanised.
"The decision to euthanise was taken on the basis of a global evaluation of the persistent threat to human security," the head of Norway's Fisheries Directorate Frank Bakke-Jensen said in a statement on Sunday.
Freya, whose name is a reference to the Norse goddess of beauty and love, had made headlines since July 17 when she was first spotted in the waters of the Norwegian capital.
The 600-kilogramme female walrus became a popular attraction in Norway, despite warnings from officials that people should refrain from getting close and posing for pictures with the massive marine mammal.
Walruses are protected and as recently as last month officials said they hoped Freya would leave of her own accord and that euthanasia would be a last resort.
'Crowd behaviour behind Freya's euthanasia'
Walruses normally live in the northerly latitudes of the Arctic.
Between long naps in the sun –– a walrus can sleep up to 20 hours a day –– Freya had been filmed chasing a duck, attacking a swan and, more often than not, dozing off on boats struggling to support her bulk.
Despite repeated appeals, curious onlookers continued to approach the mammal, sometimes with children in tow, to take photographs.
“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,” the Fisheries Directorate said.
“Therefore, the Directorate has concluded, the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained.”
“We have sympathies for the fact that the decision can cause a reaction from the public, but I am firm that this was the right call,” Bakke-Jensen said.
“We have great regard for animal welfare, but human life and safety must take precedence.”
It is unusual but not unheard of for walruses to travel into the North and Baltic Seas.
Another walrus, nicknamed Wally, was seen last year on beaches and even on a lifeboat dock in Wales.