Iguana, it's what's for dinner

An Iguana sits on the fourth hole at The Westin Rio Mar Beach Resort golf course in Puerto Rico. The invasive species has expanded its population to more than 4 million iguanas in that country. 

Jeremy Hobson: Puerto Rico has a problem with iguanas. The U.S. territory has some 4 million of them. In fact, there are more lizards than humans there. And wait till you hear what the government wants to do about it.

Here's Marketplace's David Gura.


David Gura: They want to slaughter the iguanas, then sell them overseas to butchers and restaurant owners. There aren't many natural predators in Puerto Rico.

Paul Cook: I know that, if I was able to bring it into the U.K., I would be able to sell it.

That's Paul Cook. He owns Osgrow. It's a distributor based in the U.K. specializing in things like ostrich meat, snails, and locusts.

Cook: We're not selling iguana in the U.K. Only in pet shops, as pets.

Cook says there is a growing market for what are called "exotic meats." Puerto Rico wants to capitalize on that. Immigrants want to cook what they ate "back home." World travelers want to recreate meals they had on vacations. Cook runs a side business – a gastro pub that caters to the curious:

Cook: And you tend to sort of eat your way through the menu, with a number of visits.

It looks unlikely Cook will get his hands on Puerto Rican iguana anytime soon. The plan is for the meat to be distributed in the U.S. first.

About the author

David Gura is a reporter for Marketplace, based in the Washington, D.C. bureau.

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