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Finnish town unveils memorial to famous walrus

The City of Hamina said that it was not just about the walrus, but the importance of conservation as a whole.

Neljä Viipurirykmentin pukuun sonnustautunutta miestä seisoo torvea soittavan miehen vierellä. Laitimmaisena seisoo vielä Seppo Huisman.
Ennen muistokiven paljastusta kajahti ilmoille ensin fanfaari, sitten kunnialaukaus S/S Hyökyn merkinantotykillä.

Accompanied by the fanfare of a cannon shot and accordion music, a memorial for the famous walrus of Hamina's harbour was unveiled in the city's port area of Tervasaari on Thursday evening.

The nation's eyes turned to Hamina in mid-July, when a walrus came to shore, nestled between boats. The walrus' journey, which involved becoming beached a few more times, was followed for about a week by the national media until it died on its way to Helsinki's Korkeasaari Wildlife Hospital.

Patu Patanen the captain of the Hamina-harboured ship Hyöky, upon whose decks the cannon fired the ceremonial shot, wanted to honour the locale's famous walrus. The stone was carved out of red granite by local tomb and art stone engraver Seppo Huisman.

The walrus' plaque in Hamina. Image: Jasmina Kauta / Yle

Huisman depicted the walrus with a symbolic picture rather than a lifelike replica.

"It serves the children, the elderly and everyone in between. Its symbolic meaning is broader in many ways," the engraver said, adding that he hoped the monument can start a discussion on nature conservation.

Hamina's mayor Hannu Muhonen urged people to think about whether the walrus was more than just a headline grabber.

"We have to think about the sea, the natural fauna there and how they are doing. It is a coincidence that the walrus got here, but this phenomenon still tells a story of how our world is changing," he told Yle.

Seppo Huisman, the memorial engraver next to the plaque. Image: Jasmina Kauta / Yle

The walrus and the media frenzy that surrounded it spurred numerous obituaries, songs, memes and even souvenir magnets.

The dead walrus is currently being preserved and is set to be on display when ready in the Finnish Museum of Natural History, which may take over a year.