iPad-Toting Tortoises: Art or Abuse?

Protesters want to block museum exhibit in Aspen

By Shelley Hazen,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 7, 2014 4:00 PM CDT

(Newser) – Tortoises Big Bertha, Gracie Pink Star, and Whale Wanderer are supposed to walk around a museum opening Saturday in Aspen with iPads on their backs, but a petition hopes to stop the art installation in its very slow-moving tracks. "Animals are living creatures, not art supplies," wrote one signer of the Change.org petition, the Denver Post reports. Over 1,000 others have also signed it. The iPads will be attached to the three African Sulcata tortoises’ shells and flash images of Colorado’s ghost towns, Time explains; the exhibit is the brainchild of New York-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang and is aptly called "Moving Ghost Town." The tortoises were taken to the aforementioned ghost towns with their iPads and the scenery recorded.

They will get official credit for their photography skills, but that’s little consolation to Aspen’s "free the tortoise" movement. A long-time resident and tortoise lover posted the petition when she saw photos of the iPad-outfitted tortoises. She says their carapaces are sensitive and similar to human fingernails. A museum spokesman says the tortoises will be carefully monitored during the exhibit, which is part of the $72 million Aspen Art Museum’s grand opening. (In other animal news, a monkey's selfie is generating legal controversy.)

This Aug. 2 photo shows a tortoise with an iPad mounted on its back.
This Aug. 2 photo shows a tortoise with an iPad mounted on its back.   (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Kathryn Scott Osler)
This Aug. 2 photo shows people at the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colo.
This Aug. 2 photo shows people at the Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colo.   (AP Photo/The Denver Post, Kathryn Scott Osler)
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