Photo op with green iguana

| 22/03/2017

Recently, on driving through town, I noticed an iguana sat on a chair with a sign for tourists to hold him and being charged. Surely this is not the sort of tourism we should be encouraging.  Personally, I think this is totally wrong for the Cayman image/brand. Who gives approval for this type of activity? Is it covered by a general Trade and Business Licence? If this is acceptable then the lady sitting down town by Scotiabank begging and seen on the same day should have a sign. Just saying.

Auntie’s answer: I have to say that the idea of holding one of the ubiquitous green iguanas that have taken over Cayman does not hold the slightest interest for me, but then again, I am not a tourist. Clearly I have a different perspective, which was made obvious to me one day when I saw visitors excitedly taking pictures of chickens roaming around town.

Nevertheless, you raised some interesting points and I took your questions to the relevant departments for clarification. I’ll start with the licensing issue. There are several possibilities here. According to the Department of Commerce and Investment (DCI), which regulates Trade and Business Licensing, if the person is conducting business on private property he would require permission from the owner. If he is on crown land, that would necessitate written approval from Cabinet. In addition, under certain circumstances, he may not even be required to obtain a licence, but that can be checked.

Barring that situation, “If it is found the business is not licensed, the owner can be warned, fined and/or prosecuted under the Trade and Business Licensing Law,” a DCI official explained.

To help that process along, it was suggested you could ask the iguana man if he has a licence. Plan B would be to go to the DCI website to check the Trade & Business Licenses List, if you know the name of the business. Or, if you suspect someone is operating without a licence, you can email DCI to let them know, which would start the investigatory process to determine if he is properly licensed as well as if he has permission from the landowner to be there.

I also looked into the animal-welfare aspect of this scenario. I realise you did not specifically ask about that, but I brought the question to the Department of Agriculture (DoA), which is responsible for regulating issues relating to animal health and welfare.

A representative from the department explained they had investigated someone offering what you describe, saying, “If this is the same situation that was previously brought to our attention (location near where the fish market is), our animal welfare officer investigated and found no welfare issue related to the animal and how it was being handled. It had adequate food, water and shade and the individual was advised on appropriate rest periods for the animal.”

The DoA does not deal with business-licensing issues so that question remains to be addressed through DCI.

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Category: Ask Auntie

Comments (5)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I dont think the begging lady needs a licence because beggiing seems like the opposite of a trade or business. Maybe she needs to register as a charity. On the other subject, is you take a million people more than a couple are going to want to hold the iguana. He she or it is luckier than most. What the questioner means is that she finds these activities backward and third world. Tourists often regard such things as charming local color and are not necessarily impressed with the Caymana Bay shopping experience. There is a Caymana Bay type town center every 50 miles in Florida.

    • Anonymous says:

      The person has no TB licence as I checked it out with the property owner. I hope the person cleans up the mess but in reality Cayman does not need it particularly in that location where the owner is trying to beatify the property as well as putting in a safe sidewalk which the Government never did.
      By the way the illegally constructed purple building and dangerous car park next door should be knocked down. What was the CPA thinking?

  2. Anonymous says:

    This one is funny. It demonstrates ingenuity. People like this lady should be left alone. She doesn’t make lots of money, I am sure of that. Better offer pictures with iguana and open coconuts for tourists than do nothing but demands jobs.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s not a lady but a local male Caymanian. Cayman is becoming like every other Caribbean tacky cruise port !!!!!!!
      Mind you it never did have it’s own identity

      • frangipani says:

        I really do not understand why Cayman wants to canonize the iguana and make it such a symbol! They are pests and they carry salmonella!