Hayden Panettiere - A Hero for Whales and Votes in the Nation's Capital

Washington, DC—Actress Hayden Panettiere, currently starring on the hit NBC series "Heroes," led hundreds of participants in an aerial art event forming a giant human pilot whale beside the message "VOTE," today in front of the US Capitol building.

The pilot whale symbolizes the tens of thousands of whales and dolphins killed each year by Japanese fishermen and the event commemorates the one-year anniversary of Hayden's actions in Taiji, Japan, where she paddled out with protestors on surfboards to protect a pod of pilot whales who had been captured by fishermen for slaughter and for sale to aquariums.

Hayden is passionate about protecting whales and dolphins. As a spokesperson for the Save the Whales Again! campaign, she has made repeated calls for the Bush administration to defend whales at the International Whaling Commission (IWC) and take action against the whaling countries of Japan, Norway, and Iceland for their persistence in killing whales for commercial gain.

"I turned 18 last year and I'm going to make my first vote count," says Hayden. "I am looking forward to my visit to Washington to talk to those who will be voting in the upcoming election, to stress the importance of knowing where the candidates stand on the issues that are most important to them, and to be sure that come November 4th, they will actually go out and vote to ensure that their voices are heard."

"Recent polls show that over 75 percent of registered voters oppose whaling, and over two-thirds want our government to do something about it." said Jeff Pantukhoff, president and founder of The Whaleman Foundation and executive director of the Save the Whales Again! Campaign "yet to this point, the Bush administration has done little to stop the increasing slaughter and is now actively leading efforts that could result in a legalized return to commercial whaling."

Over 25,000 great whales have been slaughtered for profit since the so-called ban on commercial whaling was instituted in 1986. "As current chair of the whaling commission, the US must stand up to whaling countries and lead the world in conserving whales and their habitats," said Susan Millward, executive director of the Animal Welfare Institute and co-founder of the Save the Whales Again! campaign. "This illustrates how vital it is for Americans to elect leaders whose views actually reflect the will of the people and who will translate that will into policy."