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Aspen Art Museum Removes Tortoises from Exhibition, Citing Safety Concerns

 Cai Guo-Qiang, Moving Ghost Town, 2014Photo by Tony Prikryl

Cai Guo-Qiang, Moving Ghost Town, 2014.

PHOTO BY TONY PRIKRYL

Three tortoises that were part of Cai Guo-Qiang’s show at the Aspen Art Museum have been removed from the exhibition to “ensure their well-being.” This comes from the Aspen Daily News in a story called “Tortoises removed from art museum.” Let’s take a moment to reflect on the fact that “Tortoises removed from art museum” is the best headline you’ll read all day.

The installation, which featured three African desert tortoises with iPads on their backs contained in an outdoor pen, inspired a petition against the display of the animals. That petition has 18,000 signatures. The exhibition was originally intended to stay open until October 5. The early close is the result of cold and wet weather being forecasted in the Aspen area.

In a statement on the museum’s web site, the AAM board of trustees said, “It has also been the AAM’s ongoing position that if at any time during the course of Moving Ghost Town it was ever deemed that the environmental circumstances, which made its presentation possible, became untenable or the well-being of the tortoises could not be absolutely assured, they would be removed immediately from the exhibition. We want to again make it very clear that we would never harm or abuse animals, or place any living thing in danger or harm’s way.”

On Monday, the tortoises were taken by museum staffers to a shelter that was pre-approved by the Turtle Conservancy, which is not a sentence I ever thought I’d have the privilege of writing.

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