The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Zookeeper’s Wife, a nonfiction book by Diane Ackerman, portrays the lives of Antonia and Jan Zabinski during World War II. In the early 1930s, the Zabinskis’ owned the Warsaw zoo, devoting their lives to raising and loving the animals in their care. During the German invasion of Warsaw in 1939, many of their animals were killed in bombing attacks. German zoologist, Lutz Heck, relocated animals from the Zabinskis’ zoo to German facilities for experimentation. The Nazis killed the remaining animals. Jan and Antonina later become involved with the Polish underground resistance to save those persecuted by the Nazi’s. Jan smuggled Jews from Warsaw Ghetto into their empty animal sheds to provide protection. Jewish “Guests” remained at the zoo until they could be transported to a safer location. The Zabinskis sheltered over three hundred Jews during this time.


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