Speed Reads


Critics say iPads mounted on tortoises for installation isn't art, it's abuse

One man's art is another man's cruelty to animals.

The $45 million Aspen Art Museum is coming under fire for an art installation it has planned for this weekend's grand opening. Desert tortoises with iPads mounted on their backs will wander around the gala, displaying images of local ghost towns on the tablets. The pictures were actually taken by the tortoises during recent trips to the ghost towns.

Critics have started a petition to stop the "barbaric" project, and it has already been signed by 1,000 people. Aspen resident Lisbeth Oden said she was disturbed by the photo she saw of a tortoise with an iPad; she used to work with tortoises and learned about the sensitivity of their carapaces. "To have anything attached to them is just not right," she told The Denver Post. "It is exploitation of animals for human enjoyment."

The museum is defending itself; spokeswoman Sara Fitzmaurice says that the tortoises were saved from an irresponsible breeder who had them living in harsh conditions. She also said the tortoises will be moved to educational and conservation facilities after the exhibit closes on Oct. 5, and that in the meantime they are being closely monitored by a veterinarian. That vet, Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier, released a statement supporting the project: "In my opinion, the tortoises have adapted well to their new habitat, and the iPads have not interfered in any way with their natural behavior."