The Zookeeper's Wife paperback







The Zookeeper's Wife hardcover


New York Times Bestseller

2008 Orion Book Award

2017 Feature Film starring Jessica Chastain, Daniel Brühl, Johan Heldenbergh                               

The Zookeeper's Wife is a strange, but historically true story of WWII. It reveals the extraordinary efforts of Jan and Antonina Zabinski, Christian zookeepers horrified by Nazi racism, who capitalized on the Nazis' obsession with pureblood animals in order to save over 300 doomed people by hiding them in the bombed-out cages at the Warsaw Zoo. A tale of people, animals, and subversive acts of compassion.

After their zoo was bombed, Polish zookeepers Jan and Antonina Zabinski managed to save over three hundred people from the Nazis by hiding refugees in the empty animal cages. With animal names for these "guests," and human names for the animals, it's no wonder that the zoo's code name became "The House Under a Crazy Star." Best-selling naturalist and acclaimed storyteller Diane Ackerman combines extensive research and an exuberant writing style to re-create this fascinating, true-life story — sharing Antonina's life as "the zookeeper's wife," while examining the disturbing obsessions at the core of Nazism. Winner of the 2008 Orion Award.





"The Zookeeper's Wife is a groundbreaking work of nonfiction, in which the human relationship to nature is explored in an absolutely original way through looking at the Holocaust. A few years ago, 'nature' writers were asking themselves, How can a book be at the same time a work of art, an act of conscientious objection to the destruction of the world, and an affirmation of hope and human decency? The Zookeeper's Wife answers this question." — Kathleen Dean Moore, Orion Book Award committee chairperson.


“A lovely story about the Holocaust might seem like a grotesque oxymoron. But in ​The Zookeeper's Wife​, Diane Ackerman proves otherwise. Here is a true story... that is simultaneously grave and exuberant, wise and playful. Ackerman has a wonderful tale to tell, and she tells it wonderfully.” — Washington Post Book World


“It is no stretch to say that this is the book Ackerman was meant to write.” — Los Angeles Times


“An exemplary work of scholarship and an 'ecstasy of imagining.'” — Booklist


“I can't imagine a better story or storyteller. ​The Zookeeper's Wife ​will touch every nerve you have.” — Jonathan Safran Foer


“Diane Ackerman has surpassed even herself in her latest book, which is alternatingly funny, moving, and terrifying. This powerful thriller would be a great novel except that it is true.” — Jared Diamond


© 2022 Diane Ackerman