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“the zookeeper’s wife” movie review – plus a giveaway!

The Zookeeper's Wife

I’m finding it harder and harder to watch movies about the Holocaust and I can’t bear to watch anything bad happen to animals so, in theory, The Zookeeper’s Wife should not be a movie I’d want to see.

But I love Jessica Chastain, I adore animals and I’m finding it more important than ever to learn as much as possible about the Holocaust.

With too many similarities happening today, I wish everyone would see The Zookeeper’s Wife, which is based on the true story of Antonina Zabinski and her husband, Jan, who oversaw the Warsaw Zoo and who hid hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust.

It is an astonishing story of heroism and proof that every person has the power to make a difference in the world.

The movie opens with Antonina watching her young son sleeping in bed with a couple of lion cubs. She kisses one, then sets off for her morning rounds of the zoo, greeting each animal with a smile and a “my love” or a “sweetheart.”

The animals are gorgeous, and Antonina is more comfortable with them than she is with human beings. When she runs out of a dinner party to help a newborn elephant, her compassion and patience are evident in every movement. Her interaction with both mother and baby is stunningly beautiful, and it is an unforgettable scene.

Of course, the idyllic world of the zoo starts to change as the Nazis come to power and the Germans invade Poland. The animals’ reactions to the first bombings are disturbing to watch, and it is devastating when many of these innocent creatures are killed — which is symbolic of the Holocaust in general. So many millions of innocent people killed.

Although Antonina is terrified about what’s happening in her country, she can’t just sit back when her Jewish friend will be taken away. “So we just close our eyes and let her go? Our dearest friend in the world?” she asks. That’s when she decides to take a stand and hide her, despite the risk to her own family.

Antonina and Jan become participants in the Resistance and, putting their own lives in jeopardy, miraculously save hundreds of Jews.

The Zookeeper’s Wife is a must-see, especially during this precarious point in history. It reveals the importance of getting involved, and proves without a doubt that the only way to combat acts of inhumanity is with acts of great humanity.

Update: The Zookeeper’s Wife was  just honored with the Truly Moving Picture Award by Heartland Film, a non-profit arts organization that is all about the transformative power of film.

Zookeeper's WifeNow I am honored to be giving away five copies of the book which the movie is based on — one autographed by the author! — as well as some great-looking tote bags.

For a chance to win, you must be a subscriber to my weekly newsletter. If you’re not a subscriber, first sign up in the right sidebar of this page. Then, simply leave a comment below.

For a second chance to win, tweet this:

Contest ends on April 10 at midnight Pacific time. Winners will be notified by return email. Sorry, but prizes can only be sent to a U.S. mailing address.

Go see the movie this weekend. It will inspire you.


  1. I’ve heard so many great things about this movie. I can’t wait to see it!

  2. I just saw the first commercial for this movie today. Wow – whoever thought of war’s effects on animals before? Sounds like a “must see” movie.

  3. I remember seeing this movie when it was out in theaters but I never had a chance to see it. I can’t wait to see this one!!

  4. Catherine Sargent says:

    This looks like a great movie. I will have to make sure that I make time to see it.

  5. I’ve heard and read so many good things about this movie. I like to sneak out and see movies by myself – so that I can enjoy them without being interrupted. I’m definitely seeing this one.

  6. This movie looks so good. Can’t wait to see it at the theater!

  7. I haven’t even heard of this (I’m not much of a movie guru) but I do like the sound of your review. I think it’s so important to know about the holocaust and this would be a great one. Thanks for the review.

  8. I can’t wait to see this movie. I hadn’t heard of this story before, so important.

  9. Rebecca Bryant says:

    I am so excited to see this movie. I have heard nothing but good things about it.

  10. I haven’t heard of this movie, but it sounds like a great movie. I’ll have to watch it!

  11. As I age it gets harder and harder to watch a film in which any living creature dies. I won’t be seeing it but my heart is with it.

  12. As a dog blogger, I have to see this movie. I love animal movies and this looks like it is going to be a hit. I know I will cry, but it will be worth it.

  13. I had no idea what this movie was about, but your review told me all I needed to know! I will definitely be going to go see this.

  14. I am excited about this movie! I really enjoy watching movies set in the WW2 era.

  15. Claudia Krusch says:

    I have been hearing such great reviews for The Zookeeper’s Wife. I am excited to go see it with my girlfriend. I was surprised to hear it was based on a true story.

  16. P Mullan says:

    The book was excellent. I did not realize that the Nazi’s not only wanted to rid the world of certain ethnic groups but also wanted to rid the world of certain animals . They had hopes of creating certain species of animals for hunting etc. The movie looks good I hope they stick as much as possible to the book.

  17. I may well look for the book – I am not much of a movie goer – or, I may wait until it is available for streaming. But, one way or the other, I am going to read or see it.

  18. Stephanie Jeannot says:

    I cry watching movies with animal cruelty. So they aren’t really my cup of tea either.

  19. I really want to see this movie. The animals dying? Maybe I’ll come 1/2 hour late. (I really can’t stand seeing that, but who can?) Thanks for another good review, Lois.

  20. This sounds sound like a great movie. Its interesting that that Antonina found herself in such an unexpected position in becoming a hero.

  21. I have not heard about this movie, but I love Jessica Chastain.
    A friend recommended the book when it was published, but I have never gotten around to reading it!
    Definitely on my list now!

  22. Sounds like an amazing movie. Wow! to be in a position as she is. Would love to watch it for myself to see her handle the work.

  23. Barbara Lima says:

    I’m hoping to see the movie this weekend. I am so looking for to it.

  24. Rosa Grant says:

    I would love to read the book, there are so many details left out of the movie.

  25. Robyn Talbott says:

    I love that you’re giving away this book. I’d love to read it before seeing the movie or do them both at the same time. 🙂


  26. I agree: watching people or animals being mistreated is almost too much to take for ‘entertainment’, but this movie is sadly relevant in our times. Hopefully it will inspire more people to pay attention.

  27. Sounds like a great movie and book. Thanks for the chance!

  28. Sara Hayden says:

    This looks like a great movie. Thanks for all the great things you bring us, Lois!

  29. Fran pillersdorf says:

    On the tbr list

  30. Mary Bulman-Griggs says:

    Great summer reat!

  31. Nicole Lancaster says:

    I really want to read the book and see the movie. It looks so good. I’m a email subscriber.

  32. Nicole Lancaster says:
  33. Charlotte says:

    I would love to read the book but not sure if I can make it through the movie, such sadness.

  34. I’m excited to see this

  35. Fran Giameo says:

    Thankfully there is still such interest in the Holocaust and the secret heroes we keep learning about. We must never forget!

  36. Susan Bailey says:

    A compassionate strong Mother who loves animals and her friends, but is frightened by the Holocaust. These are all the perfect elements for a heartwarming, inspiring book and movie! Can’t wait to read this and see the movie! Lois, please pick me!

  37. Kimberly Pickett says:

    I loved this book. Thank you so much.

  38. This is at the top of my list of “movies to see”! Can’t wait.

  39. Cynthia Richardson says:

    I’d love to read the book before I see the movie.

  40. Cynthia Richardson says:
  41. Tim Sankary says:

    My movie friends all liked it. Have to see it.

  42. Laurie Benjamin Emerson says:

    As a woman of the Jewish faith I try and read as many books about the holocaust as possible even though they break my heart. I have seen many movies but this movie looks like one which will touch my heart and spirit. I am a email subscriber.

  43. Laurie Benjamin Emerson says:
  44. Helene Cohen Bludman says:

    Oooh, I got in in the nick of time for the giveaway! I can’t wait to see this movie. I’ve heard so much about it and the performances are supposed to be amazing.

  45. Nancy Nussbaum says:

    Thank for your review. My curiosity is piqued and I want to see/read it!

  46. The previews for this movie are interesting.

  47. Maryann D. says:

    This sounds like such an interesting book and movie to see. I know I would like it.

  48. Maryann D. says:
  49. Fiona N says:

    I would love to win and read this book before watching it!

  50. Fiona N says:

    I tweeted this awesome giveaway: https://twitter.com/carabao62/status/850929339944374275
    Thank You for the chance!

  51. Sheryl Baron says:

    Such an important story. The righteous gentiles need to be remembered for their heroism. I would love to read this book and see the movie.

  52. A chance to win a book! Yea! But the chance to read & keep in my memory the awful times Jews had to go through & the courageous souls who helped get away from the Nazis.

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