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Iguana - New York City, 1983.
Iguana - New York City, 1983.

Lone Star Iguana

Field review by the editors.

Fort Worth, Texas

In the late summer of 1978, artist Bob "Daddy-O" Wade found himself in upstate New York with a 40-foot-long iguana, which he'd just built as a temporary exhibit, with nowhere to put it. "I figured, I'm not just gonna just let this thing sit here so they can take it to the dump," said Bob. So, on a whim, after a couple of beers, he called the then-very-chic Lone Star Cafe in New York City. Bob thought that a Texas-themed eatery might somehow want his giant lizard -- even though iguanas are not indigenous to Texas. To Bob's surprise, one of the owners picked up the phone, was interested, and that's how Bob's iguana wound up on the roof of a trendy Manhattan restaurant. "Years later," said Bob, "that guy told me he would never answer the phone ever again."

Iguana - Fort Worth Zoo, 2010.
Iguana - Fort Worth Zoo, 2010.

The Iguana remained an odd New York City icon until the restaurant closed in 1989. Bob bought it back for "not much," stored it at a horse farm in Virginia for a few years, then brought it back to Manhattan and placed it atop another roof near the World Trade Center. The iguana was then bought by some rich people in Fort Worth who hid it in a barn for over a decade, where the lizard was abused by a tornado and several hungry cows.

The notion that anyone in Texas would want a giant, non-native iguana has always puzzled Bob. He only built it, he said, because he was "sick of armadillos."

In 2010, Bob supervised the iguana's repair, gave it a complete makeover, and -- while Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" blared over loudspeakers -- sipped cocktails with VIPs as his lizard arrived by helicopter at its latest rooftop home: the new reptile house at the Fort Worth Zoo.

"I just sat back and watched it happen," said Bob. "It was about the most exciting of all the things I've ever done."

Also see: Roadside Art of Daddy-O

Lone Star Iguana

S. University Drive, Fort Worth, TX
Although the iguana stands atop a building in the Fort Worth Zoo, the best place to see it is outside Zoo property. I-30 exit 12A. Drive south on University Drive for three-quarters of a mile. After you cross the bridge, turn left at the next stoplight onto Colonial Pkwy. You'll immediately see a parking lot on the right, and the iguana is atop the building right behind it.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

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In the region:
World's Second Oldest Continuously Burning Light Bulb, Fort Worth, TX - 5 mi.

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