In September of 1939, Nazi bombers attacked Warsaw. One of the casualties was the Warsaw Zoo.
Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Jan, director of the zoo, returned to find many of their beloved animals dead. Others had escaped. In the days to follow, the more valuable animals that survived would be transported to zoos in Germany. Most of the others would be shot by SS officers.
But the now empty cages and crumbling buildings did not go empty. The Zabinskis used them to house Jewish refugees from the nearby ghetto. By the time the war ended, they had saved more than 300 people from the Nazis.
Diane Ackerman does a beautiful job of telling this true story, a tale of amazing courage in the midst of the worst brutality imaginable.
Not only does Antonina keep her “guests” alive and safe, she raises a young son and gives birth to a daughter, all the while surviving encounters that bring the family shockingly close to disaster.
This might be a good time for all of us to read “The Zookeeper’s Wife” to remember that there are much worst things than a falling stock market.