While activists protest animal abuse, tortoises get free iPads

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An exhibit full of tortoises with iPads glued to their shells. Is this the next evolutionary stage of the family testudinidae? Hardly. It’s an art exhibit in Colorado’s Aspen Art Museum that has animal activists hopping mad.

Slated to run until October 5th, “Moving Ghost Town” is an exhibit by New York-based artist Cai Guo-Qiang, in which three tortoises — Big Bertha, Gracie Pink Star, and Whale Wanderer — play living stands to iPads playing videos of Colorado’s ghost towns as they wander around the museum’s roof garden.

It doesn’t seem like the tortoises mind much, but animal activists are protesting. A petition on Change.org called “Take the iPads Off the Tortoises” asks “Since when is animal abuse art?” It has over 1,800 backers so far.

“These creatures were not designed to carry two-pound iPads,” Lisabeth Oden, creator of the petition, told the Aspen Daily News. But as Carey Dunne of Fast Company notes, iPads don’t weigh two pands: at worst, they run just a shy south of a pind and a half.

On the part of Colorado’s Aspen Art Museum, they say that there’s nothing abusive about the exhibit, even going as far as citing a veterinarian working with the Turtle Conservancy.

“I have worked with the staff from the Aspen Art Museum since the initial planning phase of the Cai Guo-Qiang project. Without question, the welfare of the tortoises has taken the highest priority in every stage of this exhibition,” veterinarian Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier said. “In my professional opinion, the tortoises have adapted well to their new habitat, and the iPads have not interfered in any way with their natural behavior.”

And hey! Surely, even turtles would love to have a free iPad. Right?

About the author

John BrownleeJohn Brownlee is a Contributing Editor. He has also written for Wired, Playboy, Boing Boing, Popular Mechanics, VentureBeat, and Gizmodo. He lives in Boston with his wife and two parakeets. You can follow him here on Twitter.

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