ASPEN, Co. (CBS4) – A petition has been launched to have iPads removed from the backs of tortoises which are featured at the Aspen Art Museum.

The petition on was created by Lisbeth Oden who is requesting that the museum “end this animal abuse.”

“The Tortoises that you have in your new display in the new Aspen Art Museum have had iPads attached to their shells and must endure the weight of two iPads on their back as they walk around in the sun showing slides of old Aspen in the name of art,” Oden stated in the petition. “Since when is animal abuse art? We must all rise and stop this now!! There is no excuse for this!”

Oden is begging for the museum to “do the right thing” by removing the iPad from the tortoises. She wants the animals placed in a sanctuary. She also wants the artist to “vow that he will never do anything like this to any other animal ever again!”

The artist Cai Guo-Qiang is featuring the tortoises who will be wandering around the new art museum on Saturday as part of the 24-hour public opening. The iPads will be featuring footage of abandoned ghost-town cabins from around the valley, which are images that were previously recorded with the devices while they were attached to the tortoises’ shells.

So far the petition has over 500 signatures in support of removing the iPads from the tortoises’ shells.

Statement From The Aspen Art Museum

“The Aspen Art Museum is a contemporary art museum that provides a platform for artists to present their artistic vision with a freedom of expression. That free expression can take many forms, and it is not the Museum’s practice to censor artists. Cai Guo-Qiang’s installation features three African Sulcata Tortoises which were rescued from a breeder where they were living in an over-crowded enclosure and being over bred. 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. Following the end of the exhibition on October 5, the tortoises will find new homes in conservation and educational facilities selected in collaboration with the Turtle Conservancy.”

Sara Fitzmaurice
Spokesperson, Aspen Art Museum

Statement From Local Aspen Veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier

“I have worked with the staff from the Aspen Art Museum since the initial planning phase of the Cai Guo-Qiang project. Without question, the welfare of the Tortoises has taken the highest priority in every stage of this exhibit. 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 opinion, the tortoises have adapted well to their new habitat, and the I-pads have not interfered in any way with their natural behavior.”

Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier


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