PETA protests lamb ‘mutilations’ as Australian prime minister addresses Congress

Nearly two dozen animal-rights activists protested outside the Capitol Wednesday ahead of an address to Congress by Australia’s prime minister.

The activists from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) want Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard to end what they say is the mutilation of lambs in her country by wool growers.

Protesters are calling for an end to “mulesing,” a practice used by farmers in Australia that involves removing skin from lambs to prevent maggot infestation.

“Prime Minister Gillard does have the power to put pressure on Australian wool growers to stop this mutilation of baby lambs,” said Ashley Byrne, a protester and senior campaigner for PETA.

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According to Byrne, Australian wool growers were set to phase out the practice of mulesing by 2010 in favor of more humane measures, but so far are continuing its use.

“This is completely unnecessary,” she said. Gillard “may be here for a good-will visit, but as long as Australian wool growers are mutilating baby sheep, people all over the world are going to be boycotting Australian wool products.”

Gillard met with President Obama on Tuesday, and during her visit has insisted that her country will remain an ally to the U.S. in the Afghanistan war.