She was the people’s favorite. Everyone loved watching her antics, and tourists from all over the world flew over to see her perform.
There was something that everyone admired about that big, majestic animal: her intelligence. It was almost human-like in some aspects. But admiration and delight soon turned into fear when she started wreaking chaos.
Freya is a 1,300-pound walrus who’s risen to stardom overnight in Norway. She’s this summer’s biggest Norwegian celebrity, and her tricks and antics have already conquered hearts all over the world.
It’s not only about her impressive size: there’s something else about Freya that has captured all the tourists’ and admirers’ attention and turned her into a mediatic star.
Apparently, Freya is a bit of a drifter. She’s been seen roaming the coast of Norway during the summer, traveling from port to port.
Every time one of the coastal guards sees her, word spreads, and the port gets quickly filled with observers, scholars interested in the animal’s behavior, and fans of this huge, wandering walrus. However, it was all fun and games until things started taking a grim turn.
At some points of her tour across Norweigian ports, Freya has shown signs of acknowledging and enjoying the interaction with humans. Some have even said that it looks almost like she’s trying to communicate with her audience.
For example, she sometimes rolls around in the water, like she’s trying to show off; or she makes funny gestures with her fins, like she’s waving at the people around her. But is that possible?
One thing about walruses that has always captivated marine biologists is the degree of intelligence that animals of this species show sometimes.
Just like dolphins, or even other animals like great apes or corvids, they are able to learn their way around complex problems requiring some degree of logical reasoning. And that’s not all. It seems like they may have a language or form of communication of their own.
Walruses are very gregarious, which means that they usually move in packs and prefer to be in the company of other walruses. As a result of this, they often have to communicate with one another in order for the group to stay coordinated towards the common goals.
Also, male walruses are known to woo females by “singing” long, complex compositions similar in structure and phrasing to the songs of nightingales and humpback whales. But is Freya trying to say something to her fans?
We can’t know that for sure. Currently, biologists are watchful for any possible appearance of Freya in one of Norway’s ports. Usually, it’s hard to study walruses in the wild, as they move around a lot and prefer environments that can be pretty hostile to humans.
So this is a golden opportunity for researchers. However, there’s one theory about Freya’s origins that is causing a great deal of controversy.
Some are wondering whether Freya was born free or was originally a captive walrus. To many people, the latter is the most likely option; otherwise, how can you explain her antics, similar to the ones that captive walruses are usually shown for exhibitions?
There’s also another detail. Records show that one female captive walrus escaped from an aquarium in Oslo some years ago. The walrus that escaped was very young at that time and should be an adult by now. Could that be Freya?
If that was the case, that could be a possible explanation for Freya’s change in behavior. After delighting all the fans and visitors with her funny antics, things have taken a more serious turn during the last few weeks.
Now, Freya is no longer the people’s favorite and the pride and joy of Norway’s seaside towns: she’s also the coastal guard’s worst nightmare.
For the last few weeks, Freya seems to have been sinking the boats docked in the port. She just jumps on top of them and remains there until her 1,300-pound weight sinks them into the waters.
Then, she leaves swimming, until she reappears again in some other port to do the same with new boats. But is she doing it intentionally?
Many have argued that Freya knows perfectly well what she’s doing. Considering walruses’ intelligence, and Freya’s in particular, she must know that every time she gets on top of a boat, there is a 99% chance that it will sink.
She must also be able to interpret the distress and alarm that her actions cause among humans every time this happens. Then, why does she keep doing it?
There are some theories about that: some have said that the presence of all those people surrounding her and yelling close to her are a big source of stress for the walrus, who lashes out by sinking boats in response.
However, others have argued that it’s deeper than that. And if this one explanation is true, it might serve as a cautionary tale about the way we treat animals.
Some believe that Freya was actually the captive walrus that escaped from Oslo back in the day and explain her recent behavior as some sort of revenge.
Would it be possible for a walrus to harbor such a level of resentment towards the people who kept her captive, away from her natural environment, since she was born? Maybe she’s trying to get some payback for taking her childhood away from her?
Whatever the real reason is, the truth is that Freya’s behavior is becoming a problem for Norway’s coastal guard. Freya has already sunk millions of dollars worth of boats across different ports.
“We have been in contact with the insurance company, and they probably do not cover walrus damage,” owner Tuva Schøyen Grue, 20, told the media after Freya sunk her inflatable boat in the city of Stabbestad.
“A walrus is not normally a danger to humans as long as you keep a safe distance. But if it is disturbed by humans and doesn’t get the rest it needs, it may feel threatened and attack,” have recently declared the Norwegian authorities.
“Euthanasia is out of the question,” they also said, as walruses are a protected species in Norway. Still, they have warned the public to “be considerate and keep their distance.” In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.