Turtle Conservancy on Cai Guo-Qiang’s Installation at the Aspen Art Museum

August 6, 2014

The Turtle Conservancy’s role in the development of the installation at the Aspen Art Museum was one of giving advice on how to properly care for the animals and make sure that they have the kind of environment that they need. The Turtle Conservancy had no role in the concept and execution of this installation. We as an organization work to inform anyone who asks on how to care for these animals properly.

The issue of keeping wild animals in captivity is a complex and frequently controversial one. The Turtle Conservancy believes that all wild animals, as a rule, belong in the wild. In a perfect world we would like to see all wild animals in their natural habitats. But this is not a perfect world so there are always pros and cons to each case of animals in captivity.

The positive side of this installation is that these tortoises are rescues and can be used to educate the public. By raising public awareness of the fact that African Spurred Tortoises (Centrochelys sulcata) are inappropriate as pets for most people. Although they are very cute when small, they grow to a very large size (over two feet long and more than 125 pounds) requiring appropriately large enclosures. They also live a very long time, at least as long as a human. Once these tortoises are a few years old, they can no longer be cared for by most people who buy them and become disposable pets. This message is timely as it coincides with the release of the new “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” movie which is sure to increase demand for pet tortoises just as the demand for Clown Fish skyrocketed after “Finding Nemo” came out. We hope that this will convince people that, in general, turtles and tortoises are very challenging pets that bring great responsibility as they can often outlive their owners. Buying a tortoise means adding it to your estate plan.

We have learned a great deal about turtle and tortoise husbandry over the years and have been very successful at breeding many species. We are always happy to share this knowledge with anyone who asks for it. We hope that we can help turtles and tortoises lead healthier and more enriched lives in captivity, but prefer to see all wild animals in their rightful place in the wild. To learn more please explore the links below.

Read More on the Aspen Art Museum's Website >

Learn More About Cai Guo-Qiang’s Work >

Read More on the American Tortoise Rescue's Website >