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Australia accused of animal cruelty

WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- Animal rights activists Tuesday condemned the deaths of more than 2,000 Australian sheep that died of hypothermia after being shorn of their protective wool.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, in a letter to the Australian ambassador to the United States, demanded better treatment for the sheep in Australia.

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"These sheep's miserable deaths are one more example of the abuses routinely suffered by the country's 130 million sheep that are used in the international wool and meat trades," said PETA President Ingrid Newkirk.

PETA has already given the Australian government until October to stop the worst abuses of sheep or face an international boycott of Australian wool.

Even prior to the recent deaths, PETA had accused Australian farmers of mutilating lambs without any painkillers, carving large chunks of flesh from the animals.

PETA also complained that when their wool production declines, Australian farmers export millions of sheep to the Middle East and North Africa, where their throats are slit while they are fully conscious. Many sick and injured sheep on the ships are thrown overboard or ground up alive in mincing machines, the group says.

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