A Very Strange Lawn Zoo on Staten Island

When you first see it, 724 Todt Hill Road seems like pretty much every other house in the Dongan Hills area of Staten Island.

Zoo House (01)

And then you see the dinosaur:

Zoo House (02)

Er, make that dinosaurs…

Zoo House (03)

And then, as  you continue past, literally hundreds of other animals come into view, and you realize: the most bizarre zoo imaginable has been frozen on the lawn of a Staten Island home:

Zoo House (04)

Pretty much every major animal is represented here, from turtles, foxes, and frogs…

Zoo House (07)

…to elephants, zebras, alligators and warthogs:

Zoo House (08)

Ha, and a personal favorite: a zombie, clawing his way out of the ground!

Zoo House (09)

724 Todt Hill Road is the sort of place where the trees have faces…

Zoo House (09a)

…and Bigfoot can be found peering around a trunk:

Zoo House (09b)

According to this article on SILive.com, the home is owned by Walter and Alla Shchegol, who have been collecting the statuary since 2006. Why? “It’s all for fun!” says Mrs. Shchegol, who has allowed dozens of parents with their children onto her property to explore.

Zoo House (10)

Of course, the neighbors hate it – just check out the more than 50 comments to the SILive.com article. The big issue, ostensibly, is that the statues will cause untold numbers of horrific accidents from drivers turning to gawk, under which reasoning about 64% of Manhattan should probably go too. To get a sense of how nutty some of these people are, one woman claims to have seen the Shchegol’s Tarzan swinging from a tree and “almost slammed on the brakes because I thought it was a child swinging over the roadway.”

Zoo House (11)

It doesn’t take too much digging to realize everyone really just thinks it’s detracting from the area.

Here’s the deal – in a small neighborhood, where there’s some sort of shared aesthetic tying everything together, I can understand complaints about the crazy neighbor down the block who ruins it for everyone by painting his house pink and black. Fine. But 724 is pretty much isolated on Todt Hill Road, with a school across the street and maybe only one or two other houses within walking distance. It’s pretty much on its own. So really, are you going to be the grinch who gives a shit?

Two enormous bones are on the astroturf out front – and yes, that small bird is fake:

Zoo House (12)

Also out front, a very strange man coming out of the sewer:

Zoo House (13)

A fence that feels inspired by Klingon architecture…

Zoo House (14)

…continues to the front porch – check out that crazy lantern!

Zoo House (15)

Er, but don’t get too close – lions are on the prowl!

Zoo House (16)

A tower of giraffes, as is the collective noun:

Zoo House (23)

An ape and his baby:

Zoo House (24)

And finally, an American flag clad cow:

Zoo House (18)

Strangely, I couldn’t find a single garden gnome or tacky faux Italian sculpture!

-SCOUT

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23 comments

  1. It seems as if the main objection to the display is that it appears suddenly to drivers on Todt Hill Road and can startle them. You can get a sense of this by scrolling northbound on Google Street View.

  2. Is that a Serta sheep in the last pic? Also, loving the astroturf.

  3. So, my neighbor with metal chickens and flamingoes is not nearly so bad? LOL

  4. How do they gut the grass?

  5. Awesome – this gives me another reason to visit SI!

  6. I’m shocked, no Mary on the half shell?

  7. Wow! This outdoes the little cottage style house on Bogart Rd. in River Edge (Bergen County)that had a lawn full of toadstools, rabbits, frog kings, munchkin people, and other similar whimsical oddities. They were only a few feet high, but I marveled at them wheneve I walked down to the Huffman and Boyle shopping center in the 60s. I may have to cruise this house the next time I’m up in NYC.

  8. Just goes to show you that some people have no sense of humor. Then of course there are those with an abundance to take up the slack. And just what is wrong with pink and black? Those are classic 1950’s color combos.

  9. Love this and would love to live next door so that I could explore the statuary, too. I would pay for the privilege with home made bread. I think these people are amazing, in a world where creativity is frowned upon or out right quashed, they are letting their imaginations fly and inviting others to join them. Hurray for them!! I love this. Their neighbors obviously are very dull people if they do not appreciate this!!

  10. I know this house very well and have passed it many times. It’s a treat. The only issue is that you just want to see it and there’s nowhere close by to just park and walk through it. I think it’s fun and I don’t have kids!

  11. I read some of the comments to the SILive article and, c’mon, WHY SO SERIOUS? I’d love to drive every morning by that house and cheer myself up!

  12. I was just flying for work the other day and reading the SkyMall magazine in the seat back pocket after I had to shut my laptop and they had that Zombie coming out of the ground for sale in the catalog. I thought about getting it, but man they price gouge in those things.

  13. His newest addition is Tarzan swinging from a tree with Jane sitting on a tree branch.

  14. Most people are aware it’s there by now and often slow down to look at it, which that area needs as people are always hauling buns down the road.

  15. Nice yard. I don’t often take that street, but I’ll have to take a detour some time.

    There is a guy on 85th Street in Brooklyn whose house is surrounded by statues of famous people, characters, and 50s/60s kitsch. He’s had replicas of the Batmobile, James Bond’s Lotus, and I think Doc Brown’s DeLorean at one time or another. Superman is bursting from the second floor wall. The Blues Brothers sit on a bench in the driveway. Lots of cool stuff.

    Only found one photo online about the place, as part of a Daily News article about the guy:

    http://articles.nydailynews.com/2008-05-06/local/17897037_1_bensonhurst-betty-boop-clark-kent

    If I get a chance, I’ll try to send you a couple of pics, Scout.

  16. Do you know if there is any way to contact the people? I drive by there at least twice a day and we always want to stop and look but don’t want to just drive up in their driveway, lol. And like everyone knows, there is no where to stop and walk up to the house.

    Thanks.

  17. I think it’s absolutely ugly and horrible. Amongst all the beautiful homes in Todt Hill, this house is an eye sore!!!! Couldn’t pull that off in NJ, we have ordinances for everything!

  18. What about the house further down the street that’s covered in Egyptian hieroglyphs?

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