February 19, 2010

Émile Taugourdeau, le Jardin Zoölogique/the Zoölogical Garden

pictures (around 2000) by Denis Lavaud , Zon'art ¹

Life and works

Émile Taugourdeau (1917-1989), a mason who lived in Thorée les Pins, France, around 1954 made an ornament decorated with mosaic to embellish his garden. This was the beginning of a lifetime activity of decorating the garden with sculptures of various personalities and all kinds of well known animals, such as elephants, giraffes and cows.

A couple of years after he started this project, he had to leave his job due to an injury he had received during World War II, and so he had a lot of time to make creations.

Taugourdeau was active in decorating the garden for some 35 years, embellishing the site with over 300 various sculptures.

An art environment in decay 

Taugourdeau passed away in 1989. His widow continued to take care of the garden and around 2002 the site still could be visited. But when she also had died  the garden was no longer cared for and the site became overgrown with greenery, sculptures were stolen and the site fell completely in decay,

And currently (2022) René Taugourdeau also has fallen into oblivion.

Documentation/more pictures
* The weblog of  Bruno Montpied of December 3, 2009 has a description of the site as it was in the past and as it was around 2008/2009 
* The Remy Ricordeau movie Bricoleurs de paradis. Le Gazouillis des Èlèphants (early 2011, 52') has scenes shot in 2010 of the site in decay, overgrown with blackberry
* Some sculptures have been transferred to the Luna Rossa garden museum in Caen, (France)
* Website Habitants-paysagistes (by Lille Art Museum from March 2018 on) has a series of pictures (1984-1990) by Francis David
* Website SPACES has an article and a series of photos taken around 1990 by Willem Volkertsz

¹ The magazine Zon'art is not available anymore on the internet; see also OEE-texts

first published February 2010, last revised January 2022

Émile Taugourdeau
Jardin Zoologique
72800 Thorée les Pins, dept Sarthe, region Pays de la Loire, France
garden in decay, closed for the public


  1. Hi Henk ! Was away for a while, but am back now, and see that you've been very busy here... just skimmed through your posts from beginning of February that I hadn't seen... wow, you continue to dig up an incredible variety of outsider sites... don't know how you do it, but keep up the great work. I for one am enjoying immensely. All best wishes...

  2. Hi Owen, Good to hear you are back. Satisfied? I guess you had a wonderful time...Probably not so much snow as western europe had last weeks.
    I am still going strong, it's a wonderful theme, these outsider creations.
    All the best.