Take the iPads Off The Tortoises
  • Petitioned Apple

This petition was delivered to:

Apple
Aspen Art Museum
Turtle Conservancy
Mayor of Aspen Colorado
Steve Skadron
Cai Guo-Qiang
Colorado State House
Colorado State Senate

Take the iPads Off The Tortoises

    1. Lisbeth Oden
    2. Petition by

      Lisbeth Oden

      Aspen, United States

  1.  
  2.   
August 2014

Victory

Lisbeth Oden: The Tortoises Have Won ASPEN, Colo.— We have received word that the Aspen Art Museum has removed the tortoises from Aspen, CO and that they are on their way to a tortoise sanctuary in a warmer climate and freed from the burden of 2 iPads. The Aspen Art Museum insists the decision had to do with cold weather and not public pushback. These three African Sulcata Tortoises were “rescued” from a breeder where they were living in an over-crowded enclosure only to find themselves wandering around a ghost town and then on a rooftop in Aspen, CO with 2 iPads glued to each of their backs and exploited as “art”. Some rescue! Public outcry has been overwhelming and in just under 2 weeks, 12,000 – 18,000 signatures were attained on 2 separate petitions, including one on Change.org and one from The Center for Biological Diversity. The issue also caught major media attention around the world, prompting artists and powerful philanthropists to put tremendous pressure on Aspen Art Museum. But the AAM remained resolute in their opinion that they would not censor artists and that these tortoises were well taken care of by their staff and a local veterinarian. While we may never know exactly what made this exhibit end over 1 month early, the bottom line is that the Tortoises have won and they are now on their way to a Tortoise Sanctuary where they can live out the reminder of their lives in peace. Moving forward, it is our hope that people are now thinking and talking more about the ethical treatment of animals and that they are not podiums for art and human entertainment. Just because animals have been used like this in the past, does not make it right to continue doing so now. Furthermore, we hope that people realize that exotic pets, like tortoises do not make good pets and very few people are capable of giving theses animals the life and care they deserve. Exotic animal sanctuaries are overflowing with discarded “pets” and need our help. Though reptiles are popular pets, they are not as common as cats or dogs, so many of these rescues, like the Colorado Reptile Humane Society don't receive the donations they deserve for the hard work their staff puts into rescuing these animals.

Collectively, we apologize to Big Bertha, Gracie Pink Star, and Whale Wanderer for the stupidity of some human beings but those of us who respect your lives, wish you a safe journey to your new home and many years of peaceful living. Many thanks to Mr. Andrew Sabin for all of his efforts in conjunction with Eric Goode from The Turtle Conservancy, Kieran Suckling from Center for Biological Diversity , International Fund for Animal Welfare - IFAW , The Humane Society of the United States - Colorado , and countless artists who rose up to say "no artist should abuse an animal for any reason, any more than they should abuse another human being, for the purpose of creating art."

And most importantly, tremendous thanks goes out to Mother Nature for taking a stand on behalf of these precious animals and being the one power that the Art Museum was actually willing to listen to! ###

Dear Aspen Art Museum, Cai Guo-Qiang, The Turtle Conservancy and City of Aspen

We, the undersigned, request you end this animal exploitation and abuse. The Tortoises that you have in your new display in the new Aspen Art Museum have had iPads attached to their shells and must endure the weight of 2 iPads on their back as they walk around showing slides of old Aspen in the name of art. Since when is animal abuse art?  We must all rise and stop this now!! There is no excuse for this!

So I ask you, do 2 or more wrongs make a right? That they were rescued from a bad situation somehow makes it ok for them to carry these 2 iPads because they are now well fed, have medical care and a view? Or that they have better care/food than they would in wild. This is anthropomorphizing at its finest! Tortoises & Turtles have out lived even the dinosaurs without our help! Clearly they do just fine on their own when left to their own lives. A tortoises' needs are quite simple but their sensitivity to pain and suffering is equal to that of any other living being. And as a living, breathing being deserve to be treated humanely.

And does the fact that a female tortoise can endure the weight of a mate for a few hours once a year somehow justify and prepare them for the unbalancing effect of 2 iPads attached to their backs for several months? Least we forget that then the female tortoise has a choice about what male she lets mount her. She is not strapped down and forced to endure the event.

The point is that they were not given a choice! And even if they were, do any of us speak Tortoise enough to understand what they might choose? As a species, are we really so arrogant as to assume what another species might choose if given the chance?

While we are concerned for Turtles and Tortoises and with the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie, and appreciate people seeing how big these animals can get, we do believe there is a bigger concern here. We think children and irresponsible adults will see this as permission to attach things to all animals. Children mimic what they see adults doing. So it is not a stretch to think that children will see this and start attaching things to animals they encounter. Unfortunately, they will not be as careful as you claim to be, and will use screws, toxic glue and god only knows what else, causing inexorable damage.

Anytime a public display like this, movies, etc shows that it's ok to do various things to animals, children and other non-well adjusted adults will think it's ok/funny, etc and follow suit.

At the very least, there needs to be someone there talking to people and kids about this and telling them "Do Not Try This At Home".  Perhaps even hand outs and displays about how many species of turtles and tortoises are endangerd and bring light to the work you all are doing. This may help offset the potential for danger to other animals, though we fear they will anyway.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no scientific outcome from this study, like there is when other devices are attached to wild animals. No overall good for the Tortoise as a species or humankind or any other greater good. 

I am greatly concerned that this installation is setting a very bad example on how to treat turtles/tortoises and animals in general.

For reference, the carapace (The carapace is the dorsal (back) convex part of the shell structure of a turtle, consisting primarily of the animal's ribcage, dermal armor and scutes) is sensitive to the slightest impact. If the carapace or plastron be very gently tapped, the nearest leg is alone withdrawn, a heavier tap causing a withdrawal of its whole body. We have here, therefore, a structure which is a true sensitive surface, and like the soft skin of a frog or of a man, it is brought into relation- ship with the central nervous system. Like the soft skin of other animals it may be mapped out into areas, from which the nerve-fibres passing to the spinal cord are all especially connected with outgoing motor nerves, so that the definite reflex movements of limbs as already described may come about.(1)

If you care to take the time to read the petitions, there have been many veterinarians and artists who have spoken out about this exhibit. (2)

Please stop this unnecessary exploitation of animals now and do the right thing by getting these iPad off the Tortoises' backs and make sure they are given to a sanctuary where they will never be abused like this again and put pressure on the artist to vow he will never do anything like this to any other animal ever again!

Thank you. 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. The Tortoises Have Won

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      For Immediate Release, August 25, 2014
      August 25, 2014

      Contact: Lisbeth Odén – 970-925-2621

      The Tortoises Have Won

      ASPEN, Colo.— We have received word that the Aspen Art Museum has removed the tortoises from Aspen, CO and that they are on their way to a tortoise sanctuary in a warmer climate and freed from the burden of 2 iPads. The Aspen Art Museum insists the decision had to do with cold weather and not public pushback.

      These three African Sulcata Tortoises were “rescued” from a breeder where they were living in an over-crowded enclosure only to find themselves wandering around a ghost town and then on a rooftop in Aspen, CO with 2 iPads glued to each of their backs and exploited as “art”. Some rescue!

      Public outcry has been overwhelming and in just under 2 weeks, 12,000 – 18,000 signatures were attained on 2 separate petitions, including one on Change.org and one from The Center for Biological Diversity. The issue also caught major media attention around the world, prompting artists and powerful philanthropists to put tremendous pressure on Aspen Art Museum. But the AAM remained resolute in their opinion that they would not censor artists and that these tortoises were well taken care of by their staff and a local veterinarian.

      While we may never know exactly what made this exhibit end over 1 month early, the bottom line is that the Tortoises have won and they are now on their way to a Tortoise Sanctuary where they can live out the reminder of their lives in peace.

      Moving forward, it is our hope that people are now thinking and talking more about the ethical treatment of animals and that they are not podiums for art and human entertainment. Just because animals have been used like this in the past, does not make it right to continue doing so now.

      Furthermore, we hope that people realize that exotic pets, like tortoises do not make good pets and very few people are capable of giving theses animals the life and care they deserve. Exotic animal sanctuaries are overflowing with discarded “pets” and need our help. Though reptiles are popular pets, they are not as common as cats or dogs, so many of these rescues, like the Colorado Reptile Humane Society don't receive the donations they deserve for the hard work their staff puts into rescuing these animals.

      Collectively, we apologize to Big Bertha, Gracie Pink Star, and Whale Wanderer for the stupidity of some human beings but those of us who respect your lives, wish you a safe journey to your new home and many years of peaceful living.

      Many thanks to Mr. Andrew Sabin for all of his efforts in conjunction with Eric Goode from The Turtle Conservancy, Kieran Suckling from Center for Biological Diversity, International Fund for Animal Welfare - IFAW, The Humane Society of the United States - Colorado, and countless artists who rose up to say "no artist should abuse an animal for any reason, any more than they should abuse another human being, for the purpose of creating art."

      And most importantly, tremendous thanks goes out to Mother Nature for taking a stand on behalf of these precious animals and being the one power that the Art Museum was actually willing to listen to!

      ###

    2. New Ad Campaign

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      A new ad campaign has been launched - Please see page 39. We cant give up and have to keep the pressure on the Art Museum!

      http://edition.pagesuite-professional.co.uk/launch.aspx?pbid=37becc8a-d245-470c-b3ea-544461b806e8

    3. Reached 6,000 signatures
    4. Turtle Conservancy has concerns for museum tortoises

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      http://www.aspentimes.com/news/12527756-113/museum-conservancy-art-aspen

      And my response to Mr. Goode at the Turtle Conservancy

      Dear Mr. Goode,

      By way of introduction, I am Lisbeth Oden, the person who started the petition about the Tortoises here in Aspen, Colorado. First of all, I would like to thank you for taking the time to speak with the Aspen Times and for publicly voicing the Turtle Conservation's involvement in this installation and your concerns about the tortoises here.

      While I too am concerned for Turtles and Tortoises with the upcoming Ninja Turtles movie, and appreciate people seeing how big these animals can get, I do believe there is a bigger concern here. I think children and irresponsible adults will see this as permission to attach things to all animals. Children mimic what they see adults doing. So it is not a stretch in my mind that children will see this and start attaching things to animals they encounter. Unfortunately, they will not be as careful as the Art Museum as been and will use screws, toxic glue and god only knows what else, causing inexorable damage.

      Anytime a pubic display like this, movies, etc shows that it's ok to do various things to animals, children and other non-well adjusted adults will think it's ok/funny, etc and follow suit.

      At the very least, there needs to be someone there talking to people and kids about this and telling them "Do Not Try This At Home". Perhaps even hand outs and displays about how many species of turtles and tortoises are endangerd and bring light to the work you all are doing. This may help offset the potential for danger to other animals, I fear they will anyway.

      I am greatly concerned that this installation is setting a very bad example on how to treat turtles/tortoises and animals in general and hope that you will consider this and further encourage the Art Museum to end this project.

      Thank you for your time,

      Lisbeth Odén

      Turtle Conservancy has concerns for museum tortoises at Aspen Art Museum | AspenTimes.com

      The Turtle Conservancy - a group the Aspen Art Museum has been consulting in its handling of its iPad-mounted desert tortoises - said Friday that it has concerns about the animals living in Aspen's cool climate. Turtle Conservancy board member Eric Goode also separated the organization from any involvement in the decision to mount iPads on the animals' shells.

    5. Reached 4,000 signatures
    6. The greatness of a nation & its moral progress ...

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      To Whom It May Concern -

      I have been accused of many things in this process of being a voice for the Tortoises at the new Aspen Art Museum Including but not limited to "being wacko", "Having no life and nothing else better to do", "opinions based on the limited knowledge", "spreading mis-information" and "anthropomorphizing this situation", "no understanding of abuse" - the list goes on.

      So I am ever so thankful for the countless people who's support way out weighs any negative comments sent my way and I am thankful to know there are so many people out there who really do care.

      To be clear, in the petition that I started, I never addressed how they were attached, as at the time I did not know if they were drilled or attached by an epoxy. However, the mere fact that they are attached at all is, in my opinion, an exploitation of animals for the sole purpose of human entertainment. We are responsible for and entrusted to make the right decisions for these tortoises and any other animals we hold in captivity.

      Furthermore, there is no scientific outcome from this study, like there is when other devices are attached to wild animals. No overall good for the Tortoise as a species. And though the Turtle Conservancy would claim that this is teaching people to "think twice about buying a pet turtle or tortoise after seeing this installation"., what do you think the kids are learning? That is ok to attach devices to their pets? That is ok to force animals to endure unnatural experiences merely for our entertainment? If nothing else perhaps they can have signage and handouts educating about how to REALLY treat a tortoises and that this is NOT in any way how to treat any animal.

      So I ask you, do 2 or more wrongs make a right? That they were rescued from a bad situation somehow makes it ok for them to carry these 2 iPads because they are now well fed, have medical care and a view? Or that they have better care/food than they would in wild. This is anthropomorphizing at its finest! Tortoises & Turtles have out lived even the dinosaurs without our help! Clearly they do just fine on their own when left to their own lives. A tortoises' needs are quite simple but their sensitivity to pain and suffering is equal to that of any other living being. And as a living, breathing being deserve to be treated humanely.

      And does the fact that a female tortoise can endure the weight of a mate for a few hours once a year somehow justify and prepare them for the unbalancing effect of 2 iPads attached to their backs for several months? Least we forget that then the female tortoise has a choice about what male she lets mount her. She is not strapped down and forced to endure the event.

      The point is that they were not given a choice! And even if they were, do any of us speak Tortoise enough to understand what they might choose? As a species, are we really so arrogant as to assume what another species might choose if given the chance?

      Additionally, the conflicting statements from the AAM and The Turtle Conservancy about the Conservancy's actual involvement in this issue only leads me to believe that there is something corrupt in the process. For example, "It is not the Museum's practice to censor artists," spokeswoman Sara Fitzmaurice said in the statement. But exploiting and objectifying animals is within the Museum's practice? Or this from the Turtle Conservancy. "We were merely asked to give them advice on the captive care of African Spurred Tortoises. We have since reached out to the AAM and asked them to change their description of our involvement." But then 2 hours later completely support and defend the AAM. If you would like to read some of these statement, I am happy to provide them.

      Some have even tried to say that this is not abuse. So I give you this definition from wikipedia - "Abuse is the improper usage or treatment of an entity, often to unfairly or improperly gain benefit. Abuse can come in many forms, such as: physical or verbal maltreatment, injury, assault, violation, rape, unjust practices; crimes, or other types of aggression." To me, what is being done to these tortoises is clearly abuse!

      Decades ago we deemed that dancing bears and other animals being used for entertainment outside of their normal behavior patterns was wrong and abusive. Animal shows, circuses and places like Sea World are all feeling the extreme pressure to change their practices. Cities and states across our nation are banning animal shows.

      So what is my hope with all of this? My sincerest wish is that these iPads are immediately taken off these 3 tortoises and that they be given to a sanctuary to live as normal a life as possible in captivity and that as humans, we learn that exploiting and objectifying any living creature is morally and ethically wrong.

      Let it be made clear however, in no way does my concern for these tortoises have any bearing on my feelings for the new art museum building. While I can not claim to like the building, I honestly don't care. I gave up on Aspen having any architectural integrity many years ago. Sadly now, I see that the much of Aspen has lost its moral integrity as well.

      Mahatma Gandhi says it best, "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated" and if this is where we are at as species, a nation, a society, a town, a group of people, then I am very sad to see how far we have to go.

      Thank you for your continued support.

      Namaste

    7. Reached 3,000 signatures
    8. Announcement - Tortoises & the Aspen Art Museum Facebook Group

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      Welcome to all who want to joint to this group and a have constructive conversation about how we can help these tortoises. I believe I have set it set up so that this is an open group so we can all can add anyone who asks to join. Please help me repost all the information about this exhibit so that we we have a complete record of all that has transpired. But lease leave positive and constructive feedback only. We reserve the right to delete any negative, nasty or derogatory comments. Thank you. Namaste

      https://www.facebook.com/groups/TortoisesAspenArt/

    9. Unfortunately, here is the latest response from TC...

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      Unfortunately, here is the latest response from TC...

      Dear Kellie,

      Thank you for your emails. We are excited that so many people are expressing concern for these tortoises. It says a lot about how societal views on animal welfare is (finally) changing for the best.

      Regarding the iPads mounted on the backs of these tortoises: I honestly believe that these animals do not even notice the extra weight on their shells after living with the accoutrements for 24 hours. Using epoxy to attach various devices to a turtle’s carapace is actually a very common practice. Sea turtles are regularly released all over the world with GPS transmitters attached with epoxy (these devices get smaller all the time, but 10 years ago weighed much more than two iPads). Land tortoises and even smaller freshwater turtles are also regularly outfitted with VHS and GPS radio equipment for tracking and scientific studies. We also attach data loggers to collect temperature and humidity information to turtles to learn more about the environment in which they live. The Turtle Conservancy has been using these methods for many years now. Tagging wild tortoises in remote regions like Madagascar and also captive tortoises at our breeding facility.

      Another note on added weight on a tortoise’s carapace: Think about this — when the African Spurred Tortoise mates, in captivity or the wild, there is a 250 + lb. male tortoise bearing down on the top of that female tortoise. Mating of this species can be extremely violent!

      Again, we want everyone to know that these animals are former pets — abandoned by their owners! They will never be able to be released into the wild, never. We hope that people might think twice about buying a pet turtle or tortoise after seeing this installation.

      Click here to see examples of turtles with electronics attached to their shells.

      I hope this email will make things clearer for you. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have further questions.

      Sincerely,

      Maximilian Maurer

      ******* Personal Comment **********
      Attaching for scientific purposes is one thing. There is a positive gain for research. This is merely for human entertainment. And all those transmitters are designed to allow the sea turtle/ tortoise to go about life as usual. And I bet those devices dont impede the afore mentioned breeding, which by the way, does not go on for hours upon hour for 2+ months. And tortoise mating is not rape. She has a choice! These tortoises do not.

    10. Turtle Conservancy - Asking For A Chance In Description of Involvement!

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      Dear Kellie,

      Thank you for your concern, we did not approve or endorse the installation at the Aspen Art Museum. We were merely asked to give them advice on the captive care of African Spurred Tortoises. We provide anyone who asks with the necessary information to provide the proper environment for their animals. We have since reached out to the AAM and asked them to change their description of our involvement. Again, thank you for your concern.

      Best,

      TC Team

    11. Letter From The Turtle Conservancy

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      Make of this what you will - "we did not approve or endorse the installation at the Aspen Art Museum. We were merely asked to give them advice on the captive care of African Spurred Tortoises."

      But first thought is why are they doing nothing to stop it.

      But I am here by calling the statement made by the Aspen Art Museum's Director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson of “We collaborated with the Turtle Conservancy, so they have supervised every decision we’ve made overall, so we have the seal of approval from the most rigid organization.” a drastic stretching of the facts!

      ****************
      I have received a response from The Turtle Conservancy in response to my inquiry about the Aspen Art Museum exhibit.

      Dear Dan,

      Thank you for your concern, we did not approve or endorse the installation at the Aspen Art Museum. We were merely asked to give them advice on the captive care of African Spurred Tortoises. We provide anyone who asks with the necessary information to provide the proper environment for their animals. We have since reached out to the AAM and asked them to change their description of our involvement. Again, thank you for your concern.
      Best,

      TC Team
      On Aug 6, 2014, at 6:49 PM, Dan Ferrin wrote:

      To whom it may concern:
      I understand that your organization is working with the Aspen Art Museum and supporting their use of tortoises to lug around iPads on their backs as some kind of art exhibit. I find this exhibit to be offensive, and would greatly appreciate if you could share with me and my friends who oppose it what your ethical justification is for participating in this exploitation of these creatures.
      Thank you,
      Dan Ferrin

    12. Reached 2,500 signatures
    13. The end of the exhibition is slated for October 5

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      The end of the exhibition is slated for October 5 -

      This means these tortoises will be wearing these contraptions for over 2 months!

    14. Reached 1,000 signatures
    15. From PETA

      Lisbeth Oden
      Petition Organizer

      Thank you for writing, Lisbeth, and for your compassion. We are currently looking into this, and in the meantime, we encourage you to voice your concerns to the museum as well.

      Sarah Preston, PETA

    16. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • Diane Kraft ENGLEWOOD, CO
      • about 1 month ago

      Animals are not for our amusement!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Giuseppina Panfili PONTE PATTOLI, ITALY
      • about 1 month ago

      Perche i veri artisti non hanno bisogno de ste minchiate!!!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • judy braadshaw BEDMINSTER, NJ
      • about 1 month ago

      Inhumane

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Melissa Shennan CHICAGO, IL
      • about 1 month ago

      Animal cruelty in the name of Art is appalling.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • leslie schmidt THE VILLAGES, FL
      • about 1 month ago

      Just look at it.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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