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Panettiere to lead anti-whaling rally

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- The Animal Welfare Institute said U.S. television star Hayden Panettiere plans to lead an upcoming Washington rally against commercial whaling.

Panettiere, who plays cheerleader Claire on NBC's "Heroes," is scheduled to attend the event Sunday afternoon at Dupont Circle.

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The actress and animal-rights activist also was expected to later speak with policymakers and students to encourage increased whale protection.

"Whales face increasing threats from climate change, ship strikes, entanglement in nets, and chemical and noise pollution, yet Japan, Norway and Iceland continue to kill them in increasing numbers," Panettiere, who is a spokeswoman for the "Save the Whales Again!" campaign, said in a statement. "I am looking forward to talking with officials who actually make and carry out our policies, as well as fellow young people who will be voting in the upcoming election -- I want our voice to be heard."

"Over 25,000 whales have been slaughtered for profit since the ban on commercial whaling was instituted. The United States is the current chair of the IWC (International Whaling Commission) and it must stand up to whaling countries and use its position to lead the world in conserving whales and their habitats," said Susan Millward of the Animal Welfare Institute.

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