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Spinion gets green light to process invasive iguana meat

After years of waiting, Spinion Ltd has finally received approval to start processing the invasive green iguana for sale here on island and for export.

Spinion’s Maria Yapelli said she hopes the green iguana, an invasive pest in our islands, will find acceptance in Cayman’s culinary scene.

“First of all, it’s just good, it’s good eating. People feel good about eating something that is good for the environment,” said Ms. Yapelli.

Last week, Spinion received approval from the Department of Environmental Health to process iguana in its George Town plant, after years of waiting.

“There’s absolutely been days where I wanted to give up or our partners wanted to give up, or my husband wanted to give up,” explained Ms. Yapelli. “What keeps us going is the reason we got into it, which is to do it for Cayman, to help the people of Cayman.

So far, just one restaurant is serving the meat, known in Latin America as ‘gallinas de palo” – or tree chicken – but more are showing interest.

“Right now we’re only doing small scale. There’s a lot to learn about processing iguana because right now we’re only doing the tail and the legs and were throwing the rest of it out… that, we hope will change,” said Ms. Yapelli.

Now, as the DOE’s 2017 green iguana culling scheme is underway, Ms. Yapelli told Cayman 27 she’s interested in partnering with contracted cullers to purchase their catch for processing.

“They have to be alive, and they have to be captured humanely and delivered to us humanely,” she said.

Ms. Yapelli said Spinion should be in a position to start exporting iguana meat sometime in June. If you’d like to give green iguana a taste, it’s on the menu at Tukka on East End.

About the author

Joe Avary

Joe Avary

Joe Avary has been with Cayman 27 since 2014. He brings 20 years in television experience to the job, working hard every day to bring the people of Cayman stories that inform the public and make a difference in the community. Joe hopes his love for the Cayman Islands shines through in his informative and entertaining weather reports. If you have a story idea for Joe or just want to say hello, call him at 324-2141 or send an email to

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