ASPEN, Colo. – A Colorado art museum is standing by an upcoming exhibit featuring three tortoises with iPads mounted on their backs, despite calls from animal-rights activists to call off the exhibit as animal abuse.
The Aspen Art Museum released a statement Wednesday supporting the exhibit by Chinese-born Cai Guo-Qiang called “Moving Ghost Town.” The exhibit opens Saturday as part of the public grand opening of the town’s new $45 million museum.
The African Sulcata tortoises will roam around grass on the museum’s roof deck garden. Each will have two iPads showing video of area ghost towns.
The museum said the tortoises were rescued from a breeder and that a veterinarian is overseeing their care, and that their diet includes leafy vegetables. The iPads are on mounts attached with an epoxy used to attach tracking devices to wild animals, the museum said.
“It is not the Museum’s practice to censor artists,” spokeswoman Sara Fitzmaurice wrote in a statement.
“The three are being closely monitored, cared for, checked by a local veterinarian at regular intervals, and are being exhibited in consultation with the Turtle Conservancy,” Fitzmaurice wrote. She said the tortoises would get new homes after the exhibit closes Oct. 5.
The Museum also sent a statement from an Aspen veterinarian.
“The iPads have not interfered in any way with their natural behaviour,” Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier said in the statement.
But the creator of the petition to stop the exhibit disagreed.
“These creatures were not designed to carry 2-pound iPads,” Lisabeth Oden told the Aspen Daily News.