Movie Review: The Zookeeper’s Wife


Now available on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Download is the historic drama The Zookeeper’s Wife.

The film stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh and Daniel Brühl, to name a few. 

This film is based on a true story from diaries written by Jessican Chastain’s character, Antonia Żabiński.

Dr. Jan Żabiński (Heldenbergh) and his wife, Antonina (Chastain) own a zoo in Warsaw, Poland. They live on the zoo grounds with their son.

Life seems idyllic at the zoo. The Żabiński have a lot of friends and are well liked in their community. Jan and Antonia also have a genuine interest in the well being of the animals in their care. Antonia especially has a connection to the animals. Even the fieriest of beast is not afraid of her or will attack her. She’s like an “animal whisperer.”

One day Antonia and her son Ryszard were nearly killed when the Germans launched and air attack on Warsaw. The bombs killed many of the animals at the zoo and freed many others (who were later caught and returned to the zoo).

Dr. Lutz Heck (Brühl), head of the Berlin Zoo and “Hitler’s zoologist” offers to take the best animals that still remained at the Warsaw Zoo and bring them to Berlin where they will be safe. Reluctantly Antonia agrees (much to the dismay of her husband). As it turns out, Dr. Heck has other plans for these animals.

The Żabiński family remain at the zoo. The are safe for the most part, but many of their friends have been forced to flee or have been captured and forced to live Jewish Ghettos.

One of their best friends risks being sent to the Ghetto, so Antonia offers to let her hide out in her home – in hopes that the Nazis don’t find her.

Helping out one person was not enough. Soon the family take in more people from the Ghetto, hiding them away in the zoo. Some are able to be transported to safety but others end up living in the zoo for months, even years.

Will their secret be revealed? If the Nazis find out they are hiding Jewish people, what will happen to them? Will the Warsaw Zoo ever return to the wonderful place it once was? To find out you need to pick up (or download) The Zookeeper’s Wife. Look for it where ever movies are sold.

I didn’t know much about this movie before I watched it. I had seen trailers on television for it and it looked interesting. When I was offered a screener copy to review I jumped on the opportunity.

Here is a trailer for your enjoyment. This is the theatrical trailer. The film is now available for home viewing.


See what I mean? It looks good.That is because it IS a good movie.

The film is rated PG-13. There is brief nudity and assumed rape. I think the bombing and some cruel things that are done to the animals make this a film not suitable for young children.

Over all I really enjoyed the film. It kept me interested from start to finish. Normally I am not a fan of war time films, or historical films, but this one caught my interest. I think a lot of it had to do with me being a big animal lover and always dreaming of having my own farm, zoo or animal rescue place.

Jessica Chastain was wonderful as her role of Antonia. Her accent was spot on too. The filmmakers did an excellent job casting her in this role.

The film tugged at my heart strings too. I felt so bad for not only the innocent animals at the zoo, but also the innocent men, women and children who were forced out of Poland and murdered. That is such an injustice to human kind and I hope and pray something like that NEVER happens again – ever.

I’m surprised that I have never heard of this family until now. They courageously saved the lives of about 300+ people. That is amazing. We should have read about them in history books and learned about this family in school. They risked everything – including their lives – to save the lives of so many people.

There are some bonus features worth checking out too.

Deleted Scenes

The Making of The Zookeeper’s Wife – Filmmakers, cast, and crew discuss the challenges they encountered in making the film, including recreating the Warsaw Zoo; working with the animals; and doing justice to such an important story.

The Żabiński Family – A closer look at the selfless family at the center of The Zookeeper’s Wife, including interviews with Teresa Żabińska and Ryszard Żabiński, the real-life children of Antonina and Jan.

I found the bonus features not only interesting, but they also gave you a better insight to the real life family and how they were able to work with the real live animals in the film. I would recommend you taking the time to watch the bonus features for this film.

You can learn more about the film on it’s official website, www.TheZookeepersWifeFilm.com. You can also check out the film on social media:

  • Facebook: /TheZookeepersWife
  • Twitter: @Zookeepers
  • Instagram: @TheZookeepersWife
  • Hashtag: #TheZookeepersWife

Have you seen this film? Do you have an interest in seeing The Zookeeper’s Wife? Feel free to share your thoughts.


*I received a free screener copy to review. There was no compensation. The opinions expressed are my own and not influenced in any way.

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About Kimberly

Kimberly Vetrano resides in the suburbs of New York City with her family and “mini zoo” consisting of five cats, a dog and a Goldfish. Kimberly is a teacher’s assistant for a Kindergarten class. When she is not working or blogging, Kimberly enjoys taking photos of nature and hanging out with family and friends.