Shelter in animal cages

300 Jews from Warsaw Jewish community were saved by Jan and Antonina Żabinski. Jan Zabinski was the director of the Warsaw Zoological Garden. During the occupation of Poland he also held the function of Superintendent of Warsaw’s Public Parks. Żabiński used his position ostensibly to inspect the state of the flora within the ghetto but, in actual fact, to visit his many Jewish friends and colleagues and thus to maintain contact with them. He helped them escape and find shelter. He even managed to place some of them in animal cages in the zoological garden once their original tenants fell victim to aerial bombing of Warsaw.

For 3 long years the couple Jan and Antonina Żabiński hid scores of Jews in abandoned animal cages and yet others in their house on the premises of the zoological garden. Thus some 300 Warsaw Jews survived the horror of the Holocaust. Jan Żabinski was an active member of the Polish underground movement the Home Army and fought in the Warsaw Uprising. Upon its suppression, he was taken as a prisoner to camps in Germany. His wife Antonina kept looking after the Jews who were hiding in the animal cages of the zoo and also after other Jews who were left behind in the ruins of Warsaw.

In 1956, Yad Vashem awarded the title of Righteous Among the Nations to Jan and Antonina Żabiński and in 1968 Jan Żabinski visited Israel and took part in tree planting ceremony at Yad Vashem in the Alley of the Righteous Among the Nations.

On 2007 was published the book “The Zookeeper`s Wife” by Diane Ackerman that on 2017 became a film by the same title directed by Niki Caro