A true story—as powerful as Schindler's List—in which the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands.
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,
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. 8 pages of illustrations.