Emile Taugourdeau’s Zoological Garden – Thorée-les-Pins, France - Atlas Obscura

Emile Taugourdeau’s Zoological Garden

Thorée-les-Pins, France

One man's fifteen-year diversion lead to a garden of intriguing sculptures. 


Visitors are greeted at the entrance of the Zoological Garden by an Indian goddess winded by two hulking snakes, standing by a cement windmill and cement trees.

In 1974, Emile Taugourdeau’s duck died, which prompted him to sculpt the duck in cement in order to immortalize it. This venture ignited a fifteen-year creative passion (or some might say obsession) that thrived over the years, and eventually led to a “Zoological Garden” full of cement birds and beasts, human figures, including a bride and a groom, a cart driver, footballers, and small children.

The duck was first joined by flamingos and peacocks, then bears and deer, and buffalo, a tree full of parrots, then, moving on to people, Taugourdeau added St. Francis of Assisi to his collection, followed by a Mexican with a big sombrero feeding a mule, and even a group of drinkers toasting to passersby. Taugourdeau worked rapidly, painting on the damp cement so that it would absorb the colors, and concluded his work by adding cemented gendarmes to keep the place in order.

Since his death in 1989, the Garden has been watched over by his wife Denise, but the sculptures, surrounded by trees, have gone green and moldy, and have received little if any restoration since Taugoudeau’s passing.

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