Coffeeboss's Reviews > The Zookeeper's Wife

The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
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's review
Jan 08, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: history, nature-and-critters
Read in July, 2008

I've really enjoyed Diane Ackerman's other books, so I have to say that I was a little disappointed that I wasn't enthralled by this historical account of Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who were the zookeepers in Warsaw before and during WWII. Their actions were amazing, as they helped and sheltered hundreds of Jews and others in the zoo itself, all the while being completely visible to the Nazi occupiers.

Animal lovers will find parts of this book wrenching, as Ackerman is careful to create full animal characters, respecting the family's love for creatures. The elimination of the animals in the zoo by drunken Nazi-solider "sportsmen" is horrifying, as are the times when their young son's pets are to be taken and killed before his eyes by the occupiers (this happens more than once).

Like other reviewers, I was surprised by the ending, or lack thereof, which didn't give satisfying resolution about what happened to the "characters" after the war. The book did hearten me to the people of Poland during the war though, as there is much proof that tens of thousands of local Catholics did help the Jews escape/hide from the Nazis in any way they could.

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