Walrus Freya who became attraction in Norway’s Oslo Fjord put down

Freya the walrus on a boat

A walrus that had become a popular attraction in the Oslo Fjord has been put down out of concern for the safety of the public, Norwegian officials say.

The walrus, nicknamed Freya, rose to fame after clambering on to boats to sunbathe – sometimes sinking them.

People refused warnings not to get too close to the 1,300lb (600kg) 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 say.

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

On Sunday, 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 in a statement.

He added that other options had been considered, including moving Freya out of the fjord, but they had been discarded out of concern for the welfare of the walrus.

The operation to euthanize her had been carried out “in a humane fashion”, with the body taken for further examination by vets.

Freya, who was first spotted in the Norwegian capital 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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