Sculpture Honoring the Life of Freya the Euthanized Walrus Is Unveiled in Norway

In 2022, a young walrus named Freya became a celebrity after taking up residence in Norway. Unlike many walruses, Freya didn't seem afraid of humans and had no problem getting close to the water's edge in Oslofjord. She clambered aboard ships to sunbathe—sinking some, given that she weighed 1,300 pounds—and became somewhat of a tourist attraction. When throngs of people came to visit and take selfies with her, ignoring the Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries to keep a distance, it was decided that she was a danger to the public. To the outrage of many, she was then put down by authorities.

Now, a statue sits not far from her sunbathing spot as a way to remember her and reconsider the decisions made about her life. Created by Norwegian artist Astri Tonoian, the sculpture was funded by the public after a successful crowdfunding campaign. Now she lays, eternally resting and enjoying the marina.

“She is in the fetal position,” shared the artist in a written statement. “Like a sleeping child. But those who know the conscience and know the history, will think of her death.”

“I have not created a news picture,” she continued. “But a picture that can initiate conversations about coexistence in all kinds of forms.”

The Norwegian Directorate's decision to euthanize Freya was widely criticized, and its actions came as a shock to many since it had previously stated that it would consider relocation. After her death, Director General Frank Bakke-Jensen shared, “The extensive complexity of such an operation made us conclude that [relocation] was not a viable option.” He also added, “We have great regard for animal welfare, but human life and safety must take precedence.”

Hopefully, the sculpture will be a reminder to the public to respect local wildlife, as certainly the actions of crowds surrounding Freya directly had an impact on her losing her life. As Rod Downie, chief adviser for the WWF on Polar Regions, said after her death, “Freya posed a danger to the public—and the public posed a danger to Freya.”

Freya the walrus gained attention during the summer of 2022 when she was seen sunbathing at a marina in Norway.

The crowds she attracted caused fear for the public's safety, and authorities decided to euthanize her.


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The move was heavily criticized, and a new sculpture has been unveiled to honor her memory.

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h/t: [CNN]

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Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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