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2008 Orion Book Award

The New York Times bestseller: a true story in which the keepers of the Warsaw zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.

When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Zabinskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxes.

With her exuberant prose and exquisite sensitivity to the natural world, Diane Ackerman engages us viscerally in the lives of the zoo animals, their keepers, and their hidden visitors. She shows us how Antonina refused to give in to the penetrating fear of discovery, keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her.

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The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story
Average rating
4.5 / 5
The Zookeeper's Wife
March 22nd, 2015
A well written and interesting account of life in Poland during WWII, told from the perspective of the wife of a member of the Polish resistance. Jan and Atonina Zabinski were in charge of the Warsaw Zoo at the onset of the war and the story follows their activities in the Polish underground.
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1 review
The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story
March 20th, 2013
A compelling and interesting story of one bite of life during the war that tells and gives insight to the bigger story of WWII. This is a great read and especially shows how war effects every aspect of life. It's a inspiring story of how one, two people and one family can make a huge difference during times of adversity in spite of horrific obstacles to overcome. This family helped so many find haven and help--both animals and humans!
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1 review

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