The Zookeeper's Wife (2017) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • The Zookeeper's Wife tells the account of keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, who helped save hundreds of people and animals during the German invasion.

  • War brews over Warsaw in 1939, and while life is still running its course, the Germans are slowly beginning to make their presence felt, with Hitler secretly preparing for the German invasion of Poland. Under those circumstances, the young couple of Jan and Antonina Zabinski continue their daily routine as owners and keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, but soon, as German Luftwaffe's Stukas hammer the Polish capital, their life's work together with the city, will turn to ashes. However, with the zoo liquidated for the war effort and many of its animals tragically perished, what was once an animals' zoo, will now serve as a sanctuary where Antonina, the humanist veterinarian, and Jan can hide the persecuted Polish Jews in plain sight until safe houses are found. That was Jan and Antonina's formidable, yet perilous plan, who regardless of the consequences, refused to wither before the Nazi menace, took matters into their own hands and sheltered 300 Jews under the Germans' noses.

  • Dr. Jan Zabinski (Johan Heldenbergh) is the director of the Warsaw Zoo, one of the largest and most prolific zoos in 1930s Europe. He is aided by his wife, Antonina (Jessica Chastain). On September 1, 1939, the aerial bombardment of Warsaw commences as German forces storm Poland. Bombs raze the zoo cages, killing many animals while others escape into the streets. Antonina and her son Ryszard (Timothy Radford and later, Val Maloku) barely survive. As Polish resistance collapses, Dr. Lutz Heck (Daniel Bruhl), the head of the Berlin Zoo and Adolf Hitler's chief zoologist and Jan's professional rival, arrives at the zoo when Jan is away. He offers to house the prized animals and return them to Warsaw after the war. Heck later returns with Nazi soldiers to shoot the remaining animals. It becomes evident that Heck has developed a romantic interest in Antonina..


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