The Heroes actress, 18, is speaking out about her recent involvement with activists from the anti-whaling group Sea Shepherd, saying, "I feel the need to be a voice of worthy and important causes whose efforts impact the lives of every person on Earth."
This week a video surfaced from Britain's Sky News of the actress and six other activists paddling on surfboards out into a cove in the town of Taiji in southwestern Japan, in an attempt to interfere with a dolphin hunt there. (See the video here. Warning: footage is graphic.)
The protesters were intercepted on Tuesday by fishermen on a boat who told them to leave and prodded them with a pole. They were eventually forced back to shore, unable to prevent the hunt. The video shows Panettiere breaking down in tears as she describes what happened. "This baby stuck its head out and kind of looked as us, and the thought that the baby is no longer with us is very difficult," she said.
Hayden Speaks OutIn a statement released Friday, Panettiere added: "Now more than ever the world has to come together to make changes. Just because certain cultures have had long-standing traditions does not mean that in today's world they are acceptable any longer. The world and the environment are evolving and that means we must change our ways as human beings as well."
On her reasons for supporting the cause she said, "The dolphins and whales in our ocean are a part of a larger eco-system that prevents the killing off of other marine life. By destroying these animals and not allowing our future generations to enjoy their beauty, we are causing our own selves damage. I always felt the need to speak on behalf of these helpless creatures who can not defend themselves."
The Heroes star adds, "Because I am in the public eye I feel the need to be a voice of worthy and important causes whose efforts impact the lives of every person on Earth. These animals are being brutally and unnecessarily slaughtered – and who are we to say to they have less of a right to exist than we do."
Some 14,000 dolphins are killed for food in Japan every year. Local fishermen say hunting them is a Japanese custom, and outsiders have no business interfering with it.