Activists Speak Out Against Tortoise Exhibit At Colorado Art Museum

| by Jonathan Wolfe

An art exhibit at the soon-to-open Aspen Art Museum in Colorado is causing a bit of controversy.

The exhibit features tortoises with iPads attached to their shells. The tortoises walk around the museum’s open-air rooftop, complete with dirt and vegetation, as iPads show footage of nearby ghost towns. The exhibit is appropriately named “Moving Ghost Towns.”

The iPads are mounted on a lightweight stand that is attached to each tortoises’ shell using epoxy, meaning no drilling or invasive measures were needed to attach the stands. Nevertheless, a handful of local animal activists are saying the exhibit constitutes animal cruelty.

“These creatures were not designed to carry 2-pound iPads,” activist Lisabeth Oden told the Aspen Daily News.

The museum rejects that claim, and says carrying the iPads is no issue for the sturdy tortoises. The museum consulted several animal experts about the exhibit, and says each told them it would have no affect on the animal’s behavior. In addition, the tortoises are checked on multiple times a week by a veterinarian.

Veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier has worked with the museum and the tortoises regularly for the exhibit. Here’s what she had to say about the project:

“I have worked with the staff from the Aspen Art Museum since the initial planning phase of the... project. Without question, the welfare of the tortoises has taken the highest priority in every stage of this exhibition. The environmental and nutritional needs of the animals have been met and are monitored closely. Environmental enrichment has been provided, and every attempt has been made to minimize stress on the animals. In my professional opinion, the tortoises have adapted well to their new habitat, and the iPads have not interfered in any way with their natural behavior.”

Sources: Aspen Daily News, Huffington Post