DOI: 10.3390/ani13172788 ISSN:

The Life and Death of Freya the Walrus: Human and Wild Animal Interactions in the Anthropocene Era

Abigail Levin, Sarah Vincent
  • General Veterinary
  • Animal Science and Zoology

Freya the Walrus, who often climbed onto docked boats to sunbathe and frolic, was euthanized by the Norwegian Department of Fisheries in the Oslo fjord in August 2022, sparking international outrage and media attention. Since walruses are social animals, and since the Anthropocene era of climate change has displaced animals from their Arctic homes, forcing them to migrate, we can expect more human–animal interactions at such places as marinas, where Freya met her end. This paper asks and attempts to answer how we can make such interactions just going forward? In cases such as Freya’s, we need to reconcile three competing interests: the animal’s interest in living a flourishing life as best they can in a changing climate; the public’s interest in a safe and fulfilling wildlife encounter with an animal they have come to know intimately enough to name and follow devotedly on social media; and interests in maintaining private property. Examining these interests through the philosophical lenses of co-sovereignty, capability, and individuality, however, will yield more just results for animals in similar situations of conflict and co-existence with humans in urban spaces. We argue that, going forward, state resources should be expended to safeguard the public from marina access if safety is a genuine concern, while private money should be spent by marinas to enact safe animal removal with a no-kill policy.

More from our Archive