Three tortoises that were part of a controversial exhibition at the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado have been relocated to a conservation facility, a museum spokeswoman announced. She said the animals were moved Monday to a facility that has requested anonymity.
Artist Cai Guo-Qiang's outdoor installation, "Moving Ghost Town," generated controversy this summer for featuring African desert tortoises with iPads affixed to their shells. Animal-rights activists criticized the work of art and demanded that the iPads be removed. An online petition decrying the exhibition gathered more than 6,500 signatures.
The museum responded to the criticism by saying that the tortoises were being properly cared for and that the iPads added negligible weight to the animals' shells.
On Tuesday, the museum spokeswoman said the tortoises were relocated because "it has been unseasonably cold and rainy in Aspen." As a result, "the museum's consulting veterinarian, who was retained by the [museum] to monitor the tortoises' health and well-being, recommended that the tortoises should now be moved."
She said the tortoises' new home is a conservation facility located in a warmer climate.
The Aspen Art Museum board of trustees has issued a letter saying that "we would never harm or abuse animals, or place any living thing in danger or harm's way." The board said that it had retained "a prominent local veterinarian ... to regularly examine and monitor the tortoises to assure their well-being."
Earlier this month, the museum inaugurated its new home designed by architect Shigeru Ban. "Moving Ghost Town" had been scheduled to be on display at the museum's rooftop sculpture garden through Oct. 5.
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