Is it art, or animal cruelty?
A Colorado art museum is standing by an upcoming exhibit featuring three tortoises with iPads mounted on their backs, despite calls from animal-rights activists to call off the exhibit as animal abuse.
The Aspen Art Museum released a statement supporting the exhibit by Cai Guo-Qiang called "Moving Ghost Town." The exhibit opens Saturday as part of the grand opening of the town's new $45 million museum.
The African Sulcata tortoises will roam around grass on the museum's roof deck garden. Each will have two iPads showing video of area ghost towns.
The museum said the tortoises were rescued from a breeder and that a veterinarian is overseeing their care. Their diet includes leafy vegetables. The iPads are on mounts used to attach tracking devices to wild animals, the museum said.
"The three are being closely monitored, cared for, checked by a local veterinarian at regular intervals, and are being exhibited in consultation with the Turtle Conservancy," spokeswoman Sara Fitzmaurice wrote. She said the tortoises would get new homes after the exhibit closes Oct. 5.
The Museum also sent a statement from an Aspen veterinarian.
"The iPads have not interfered in any way with their natural behavior," Dr. Elizabeth Kremzier said in the statement.
But the creator of the petition to stop the exhibit disagreed.
"These creatures were not designed to carry 2-pound iPads," Lisabeth Oden told the Aspen Daily News.