Art Exhibit Shouldn't Exploit Endangered Tortoises
The Aspen Art Museum in Colorado is currently hosting a controversial exhibit featuring extremely rare tortoises with iPads attached directly to their shells. We need you to add your voice to the many veterinarians and artists who are speaking out against this ill-conceived project.
Cai Guo-Qiang's "Moving Ghost Town" features three African sulcata tortoises roaming an enclosure, each mounted with two iPads. The outdoor exhibit may be arresting -- with the screens showing footage of nearby ghost towns and with aspen-covered hills in the background. But beyond that it's just cruel.
These endangered tortoises are rapidly disappearing in the wild precisely because of human exploitation, mostly from the pet trade. And using these rare turtles as art props now shows how little we know about what they need.
Presumably the artist knows how rare these tortoises are and hopes to use that to further a conversation about different kinds of loss. But here's another idea: How about skipping the meta aspect, losing the Apple products and just giving these turtles a real home?
Tell the Aspen Art Museum's CEO Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson and co-chairs John Phelan and Paul Schorr that exploitation of endangered animals is never OK. Urge them to close the exhibit now.
To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing to express my disappointment that the Aspen Art Museum would host the "Moving Ghost Town" exhibit that features three extremely rare African sulcata tortoises with iPads attached directly to their shells.
While I appreciate the steps that the museum has taken to ensure access to veterinary care and while I understand your reluctance to step in between artists and their work, bringing this exhibit to the museum in the first place was a mistake.
These rare and beautiful tortoises should not be exploited for any reason -- and it is human exploitation precisely that has brought these animals so perilously close to extinction. In particular, African sulcata tortoises are harmed by the pet trade, which is a major threat to their populations. And now their use as props by an established institution like the Aspen Art Museum serves to legitimize such treatment of animals.
[Your comments here]
Please remove the exhibit, place the tortoises in a sanctuary and ensure that animals are never again exploited in your museum.
[Your name here]