Animal rights protesters have criticised an upcoming art exhibition involving tortoises with iPads mounted on their backs.
Aspen Art Museum in Colorado is under pressure to call off the show, which sees the three African Sulcatas roam a grass roof while the iPads display a video of area ghost towns.
Chinese-born Cai Guo-Qiang has created Moving Ghost Town, which will appear from Saturday as part of the new $45 million museum’s grand public opening.
Aspen Art have assured concerned critics that a vet is supervising the animals’ care and ensuring that they eat a healthy diet. The tortoises are believed to have been rescued from a breeder.
“It is not the museum’s practice to censor artists,” said spokeswoman Sara Fitzmaurice in a statement.
“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.”
Aspen Art wrote on its Facebook page that the iPads add “negligible weight” to the tortoises’ backs, explaining that during mating, their “thick, sturdy legs” accommodate upwards of 150 extra pounds.
“Without question, the welfare of the tortoises has taken the highest priority in every stage of this exhibition,” said vet Dr Elizabeth Kremzier.
“The environmental and nutritional needs of the animals have been met and are monitored closely. 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 behaviour.”
Fitzmaurice added that the tortoises would go to new homes once the exhibit closes on 5 October.Reuse content