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!