Norway's popular attraction, Freya the walrus, was euthanized for safety reasons early Sunday, authorities in Norway said.
The decision comes after the country's Directorate of Fisheries warned Freya could be put down on Thursday because people were getting too close to the animal and throwing objects at it.
“Through on-site observations the past week it was made clear that the public has disregarded the current recommendation to keep a clear distance to the walrus,” it said. “Therefore, the Directorate has concluded, the possibility for potential harm to people was high and animal welfare was not being maintained.”
The 1,300-pound female walrus became an icon – capturing hearts (and making some mariner enemies) for sunbathing and chowing down on nearby boats, at times sinking them.
In addition to Norway, Freya has made appearances to the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden in recent years.
With the help of viral social media posts, the friendly walrus garnered fame worldwide. Flocks of fans came to see Freya during her time on Norway's Oslofjord this summer.
According to the government agency, the public went to the water's edge to pose for photos, sometimes trying to bathe with Freya, and throwing objects at her – failing to follow authorities' recommendations and, most importantly, endangering the health of the marine animal.
In addition to Freya's well-being, this behavior can put people in danger, senior communications advisor in the Directorate of Fisheries Nadia Jdaini explained in the Thursday statement.
The operation to put Freya down was a "last resort," spokesman for the Directorate of Fisheries Vegard Oen Hatten, told The New York Times on Friday.
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"This is a unique situation," Hatten added. "It’s the first time an animal has stayed out of their natural habitat for so long."
Last month, the Directorate of Fisheries said that euthanasia was "out of the question" and again a last option, noting that walruses are a protected species in Norway. The agency added that if Freya, for example, had to be euthanized, they would collaborate with a veterinarian from the Norwegian Institute of Marine Research.
What is the biggest animal in the world?: Largest whale, land animal on earth broken down.
Another option was to move Freya.
But relocation could've been difficult. The process includes tranquilization which brings "a risk of (the walrus) drowning,” communications adviser at Norway’s Institute of Marine Research Erlend Asta Lorentzen told NBC News.
Contributing: Natalie Neysa Alund, USA TODAY, Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Freya the walrus euthanized in Norway after officials' pleas ignored