Freya, the Walrus Killed by Norwegian Officials, Is Immortalized as a Sculpture
When a 1,300-pound walrus showed up in Oslo last summer, lounging on piers and eating mussels, she became a beloved local delight and an overnight international media sensation.
The walrus, a rare guest for Norway’s capital, was named Freya, after the Norse goddess of love, beauty and war — all of which she inspired to varying degrees.
Freya spent time in highly populated areas, where some people ignored warnings from officials to keep their distance, and would help herself onto boats, some of which she threatened to sink because of her weight.
Norwegian authorities declared Freya a threat to human safety last August and killed her in a move that critics argued was too hasty. Her death divided a country that is associated with diplomacy and a love of nature.
On Saturday a sculpture in her memory, called “For Our Sins,” was unveiled at Kongen Marina in Oslo.
Astri Tonoian, a Norwegian artist, spent months making the sculpture, based on photos of the animal. In a phone interview on Sunday, she said that she wanted to create a “historic document about the case” and the surrounding controversy that speaks to “humans’ ability to face unknown.”
“We have to practice coexisting” with people and wildlife, Ms. Tonoian said.
The bronze sculpture is a life-size depiction of Freya that weighs roughly 650 pounds, about half of her true weight because the interior is hollow. An online campaign that raised $25,000 supported the work’s creation.
The sculpture “will always remind ourselves (and future generations) that we cannot or should not always kill and remove nature when it is ‘in the way,’” the fund-raising website’s organizer, Hans Erik Holm, wrote on its website.
“I wanted to do it for the people by the people,” Mr. Holm said in a phone interview on Sunday, adding, “This is a statement against the government” for killing Freya.
Kongen Marina is near where Freya was euthanized, Ms. Tonoian said, and also near a museum, which she called “a symbol of knowledge.”
The Norwegian Directorate of Fisheries said in a statement in August that Freya was euthanized in a “humane fashion” because “the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained.”
At the time, the ministry also released a photo of a large group of people gathered around Freya close enough to touch her and cited veterinary experts as saying, “The walrus seemed stressed by the massive attention.”
“In the end, we couldn’t see any other options,” Olav Lekver, a spokesman for the agency, said at the time. “She was in an area that wasn’t natural for her.”
Ms. Tonoian said the sculpture was also a realistic rendering for those who were not lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Freya.
She was particularly moved when a blind man came to the unveiling on Saturday, she said.
“He didn’t have any idea of what a walrus looks like,” she said, but now “he got included in the conversation about this walrus by feeling it and sensing it.”
Source: Read Full Article