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ENVIRONMENT

Online campaign raises money for Freya walrus statue in Norway

An online campaign has raised over $20,000 to build a statue in Norway for Freya, a beloved walrus that was euthanised by officials at the weekend.

Pictured is a stock photo of a walrus.
An online campaign is raising funds to build a statue to honour Freya, a walrus euthanised by officials. Pictured is a stock photo of a walrus. Photo by Romy Vreeswijk on Unsplash

The walrus gained global attention after she was spotted basking in the Oslo fjord, attracting large crowds keen to spot the 600-kilogram
(1,300-pound) marine mammal.

She was put down on Sunday after officials said she was showing signs of stress and feared she was a threat to the public, who did not keep their distance as requested.

On Wednesday, an online campaign had so far raised 210,000 Norwegian krone ($21,600) to build a statue in the young walrus’s honour.

The campaign’s organiser said the statue should serve as a reminder for future generations to protect animals.

“The culling of Freya sends the extremely negative message that Norway, and in particular Oslo, is not able to make room for wild animals,” Erik Holm said on the fundraising website Spleis.no.

“By erecting a statue of the symbol that Freya has become in such a short time, we will remind ourselves (and generations to come) that we cannot and should not kill or erase nature when it is in our path.”

Freya, estimated to be around five years old, had already been sighted in the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden and chose to spend part of the summer in Norway.

She had made headlines since July 17 when she was first spotted in the waters of the Norwegian capital.

The walrus is a protected species that normally lives in the even more northerly latitudes of the Arctic.

Between long naps in the sun — a walrus can sleep up to 20 hours a day — Freya had been filmed chasing a duck, attacking a swan and dozing on boats struggling to support her bulk.

Despite repeated appeals, curious onlookers continued to approach the mammal, sometimes with children in tow, to take photographs.

Walruses do not normally behave aggressively towards humans, but they can feel threatened by intruders and attack.

Critics said the decision to put the animal down was rushed and did not take her well-being into account.

Officials said sedating Freya and moving her to a less populated area would be too complex an operation.

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CRIME

Norwegian police say second suspect involved in deadly Oslo shooting

Norwegian police said on Friday they had issued an international arrest warrant for a second suspect in a June shooting that killed two people near a gay bar in central Oslo.

Norwegian police say second suspect involved in deadly Oslo shooting

The suspect is a Norwegian in his 40s who had already shown up on police radar and is suspected of “complicity in a terrorist act”, Borge Enoksen, a police official, told a press conference. Police think the man is currently abroad, but did not provide any more details.

According to TV2, the suspect is Arfan Bhatti, a 44-year-old Islamist with prior convictions who is thought to be in Pakistan, which does not have an extradition treaty with Norway.

On June 25th, Zaniar Matapour, 43, is alleged to have opened fire near a gay bar in central Oslo in the early morning hours, amid celebrations linked to the city’s Pride festival.

The shooting killed two men, aged 54 and 60, and wounded 21 others, with Matapour quickly arrested. Matapour, a Norwegian of Iranian origin, had been known to Norway’s PST intelligence service since 2015, with concerns about his radicalisation and membership of “an extremist Islamist network”.

Norway’s domestic intelligence service has previously described the attack as “an act of Islamist terrorism” and said Matapour had “difficulties with his mental health”. He is currently at a psychiatric hospital for court-ordered mental evaluation.

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