The Zookeeper's Wife Begins Production

Production has begun in the Czech Republic on The Zookeeper's Wife, adapted from Diane Ackerman's nonfiction book of the same name which was based on the diaries of Antonina Żabińska.


Production has begun in the Czech Republic on The Zookeeper's Wife, adapted from Diane Ackerman's nonfiction book of the same name which was based on the diaries of Antonina Żabińska.

Focus Features will release the film domestically; Universal Pictures International has distribution rights to the film in the U.K., France, Germany, Scandinavia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.


The Zookeeper's Wife dramatizes a real-life story of heroism. The time is 1939. The place is Poland, homeland of Antonina Żabińska and her husband, Dr. Jan Żabiński (Johan Heldenbergh, a European Film Award nominee for the Academy Award-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown).

The Warsaw Zoo flourishes under Jan's stewardship and Antonina's care. When their country is invaded by the Nazis, Jan and Antonina are forced to report to the Reich's newly appointed chief zoologist, Lutz Heck (Golden Globe Award nominee Daniel Brühl of Captain America: Civil War). The Żabińskis covertly begin working with the Resistance - and put into action plans to save the lives of hundreds from what has become the Warsaw Ghetto, with Antonina putting herself and her children at great risk.

Johan + Daniel

  • European Film Award-nominee in Academy Award-nominated The Broken Circle Breakdown Johan Heldenbergh stars as Dr. Jan Żabiński.

  • Daniel Brühl (Captain America: Civil War) portrays Lutz Heck a zooligist assigned to the Żabińskis' zoo by the Third Reich.

1 / 2


The cast of The Zookeeper's Wife also includes Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones); Iddo Goldberg (Defiance)Goran Kostic (In the Land of Blood and Honey); and Israeli actresses Shira Haas, who stars in Natalie Portman's feature directorial debut A Tale of Love and Darkness, and Efrat Dor, acclaimed for her work in the television series Mermaids.

Supporting Cast

  • Michael McElhatton (Game of Thrones) joins Jessica Chastain in The Zookeeper's Wife

  • Iddo Goldberg (Defiance) is Maurycy Fraenkel in Niki Caro's The Zookeeper's Wife.

  • Accomplished actor Goran Kostic (In the Land of Blood and Honey) is Mr. Kinszerbaum.

  • Israeli actress Shira Haas (A Tale of Love and Darkness) is Urszula opposite Jessica Chastain.

  • Efrat Dor (Mermaids) portrays Magda Gross in Focus Features' The Zookeeper's Wife.

1 / 5

Filmmakers + Crew

The screenplay adaptation is by Angela Workman (War Bride). The movie is being produced by Jeff Abberley, through his Scion Films; Kim Zubick and Diane Levin, who initiated the project; and Electric City Entertainment's Jamie Patricof.

Academy Award nominee Suzie Davies (Mr. Turner) is the production designer; Andrij Parekh (Show Me a Hero) is the director of photography; and Bina Daigeler (Only Lovers Left Alive) is the film's costume designer.