Photographer Who Befriended Freya the Walrus Outraged at Her Slaying

Freya the walrus
Freya the Walrus | Photo by James T M Towill (cc-by-sa/2.0)

A wildlife photographer who befriended Freya the walrus has condemned her “murder” after Norway euthanized the animal, deeming her a threat to humans.

Hugh Harrop, based in the Shetland Islands, U.K., is apoplectic over Freya’s killing. He had gotten to know the creature in December last year while it lived on the Scottish archipelago and called the act “unforgivable.”

“It’s absolutely abhorrent and unbelievable that a wild animal is being murdered due to human behavior,” Harrop tells the Independent.

“It is not the behavior of the animal that is at fault. It’s the Norwegian government not being able to control people.”

Norway’s fisheries directorate said the walrus was euthanized “based on an overall assessment of the threat to human safety” after the public ignored warnings not to get too close to her, often with small children, to pose for photographs.

Other reports showed people swimming with the walrus, throwing things at her, and surrounding her in large numbers.

On one occasion police had to evacuate and block off a bathing area after Freya chased a woman into the sea.

Global Outrage

People across the world have been quick to criticize Norwegian authorities over Freya’s demise. Harrop agrees, and says that the walrus should have been anesthetized and moved to the nearest walrus colony.

“The outrage surrounding Freya’s murder is warranted,” he says.

“We can’t change the past, we can’t bring Freya back, but lessons have to be learned.”

Norway’s prime minister has defended the decision saying that it was “right” to put down the 1,300-pound female.

“I support the decision to euthanize Freya,” Jonas Gahr Støre told the public broadcaster NRK on Monday.

“It was the right decision. I am not surprised that this has led to many international reactions. Sometimes we have to make unpopular decisions.”