We need your help to reach our fiscal year-end goal tomorrow. Donate Now

Iguana, it’s what’s for dinner

David Gura Feb 7, 2012

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.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.  

The clock is ticking 

Our fiscal year ends tomorrow. Can you chip in $50, $25 or even $10 to help us reach our goal?