Is it Art or Tortoise Abuse?

August 8, 2014

A new art museum exhibit at the newly opened Aspen Art Museum in Aspen, Colo. has caused a bit of an uproar with animal rights activists due to the fact that the exhibit features three rescued sulcata tortoises  (Geochelone [Centrochelys] Sulcata) with iPads glued to their shells, which are the featured element of the exhibit. The use of the tortoises as “art” is part of the opening of the museum August 9.

Read More on the Sulcata Tortoise

Sulcata Tortoise Care Sheet


sulcata tortoise Aspen art museum exhibit

Courtesy Cai Guo-Qiang

Two of the three sulcata tortoises with iPads attached to their shells via adhesive.

The artist who conceived the exhibit, Cai Guo-Qiang created special mounts for the iPads, which are then mounted onto the shells of the tortoises via silicone, which the museum says is completely removable and non-invasive to the tortoises.

The museum also says the tortoises are being closely monitored, cared for and checked by a local veterinarian at prescribed intervals during the exhibit which runs through October 5. The Turtle Conservancy is also working with the museum to ensure that the tortoises are being cared for properly, according to the museum’s website. At the end of the exhibit, the three tortoises will be rehomed in conservation and educational facilities.

According to the Aspen Daily News, a Change.org petition was launched in protest of the use of the iPads on the back of the tortoises, and as of August 8, it received close to 4,000 signatures. 

The Sulcata tortoise is one of the larger tortoises, with male capable of reaching 200 pounds. Native to Africa, they can live more than 70 years.

Please leave comments on this interpretation of art below.

John B. Virata keeps a ball python, two corn snakes, a king snake, and two leopard geckos. His first snake, a California kingsnake, was purchased at the Pet Place in Westminster, CA for $5. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata 


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