Hirst Exhibition Killed 9K Butterflies

Animal rights groups slam British artist

By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff

Posted Oct 15, 2012 12:43 AM CDT

(Newser) – British artist Damien Hirst, famous for his works using pickled and dismembered animals, has once again angered animal rights groups—this time for a work that used live creatures. His "In and Out of Love" exhibition at London's Tate Modern allowed visitors to observe the lives of butterflies close up, but more than 9,000 of the insects died during the 23-week exhibition after being trampled or brushed off visitors' clothing, the Telegraph reports. The tropical species used has a life expectancy of nine months in the wild, but most only survived a few days in the Hirst exhibition.

"There would be national outcry if the exhibition involved any other animal, such as a dog," a spokesman for the Royal Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says. "Just because it is butterflies, that does not mean they do not deserve to be treated with kindness." The chief of Butterfly Conservation says the group "is concerned that this work represents a throwaway approach to living creatures and encourages a lack of respect for the environment."

British artist Damien Hirst stands beside his 2006 piece "I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds," which used the wings of thousands of butterflies.   (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
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