A life-sized bronze sculpture of a friendly walrus named Freya who was killed by Norwegian authorities now sits quietly by the shore she liked to frequent, according to news reports.
Erik Holm said he started an online campaign, which raised about $25,000 for the sculpture, because of his anger over Freya’s needless death.
“I started this because I’m furious about the way the [Norwegian] Fisheries Directorate and the state handled this situation,” Holm told news.
Freya, a 1,300 pound female walrus named after the Norse goddess of love and beauty, made headlines about eight months ago, when her search for the perfect sunbathing spot started sinking small boats in the Oslo Fjord.
While most walruses avoid people, the curious Freya showed an interest in the crowds who flocked to take photos with her.
Although walruses are a protected species, and one that rarely attacks people, Norwegian authorities warned the public to keep their distance from Freya, citing reported public safety concerns.
Authorities then killed Freya in August 2022, writing in an official statement that the public had “disregarded the current recommendation to keep a clear distance to the walrus” and that more compassionate alternatives, like relocating her, reportedly would be too costly and a “significant use of resources,” according to news reports.
The sculpture shows a peaceful-looking Freya sleeping on her side.
Artist Astri Tonoian titled the piece “For Our Sins” and told news she hopes the work will be “an immortal symbol of people’s ability to mistreat not just wildlife but also humans.”
“This is how humans treat wild nature, but it is also how humans treat humans,” she told news.
Tonoian also said authorities should have acted sooner and relocated Freya. She added that the piece isn’t meant to inspire hatred of authorities but rather to help people “question the system” as a whole, according to CNN.
In an Instagram post, Tonoian wrote that she hopes the sculpture will inspire conversations that help society evolve.
“I have not created a news picture, but a picture that can initiate conversations about coexistence in all kinds of forms,” she wrote. “I have prepared an invitation for philosophers, anthropologists, psychologists, social scientists, biologists, to be able to discuss, evaluate, and measure society, before we can move it further in a better direction.”
The sculpture has evoked a positive and grateful response from those who were heartbroken by Freya’s sad fate.
“Every time I think about this (and it’s more often than you’d think), I tear up still,” one person wrote in response to the Instagram post. “Knowing that she will be honored and remembered in this way eases my aching heart a bit.”
Lady Freethinker thanks the more than 38,000 people who have signed our petition on behalf of Freya, urging Norwegian authorities to have more compassionate alternatives to cruel killings for any future incidents. We’re continuing to watch for a response from authorities, so if you haven’t signed already, please do!
And please remember to always maintain a respectful distance from wild animals to prevent habituation and tragic deaths like Freya’s.