Study Guide

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story What's Up With the Ending?

By Diane Ackerman

What's Up With the Ending?

Where Are They Now?

Because this is a nonfiction book, the final chapter serves as a "Where are they now?" of sorts. Well, not exactly, because the true answer to this would be "dead." So it's more like a "where did they all go after the war finally ended?" type of chapter—but that's a mouthful.

In 1945, wedding bells ring-a-ding-ding for Magdalena and Maurycy. Jan, however, is in a POW camp. After miraculously surviving after being shot through the neck, Jan returns to Antonina and his children in 1946 and begins repairing the zoo—and their spirits—in 1947. Some of the original animals, like the badger, are even found and rescued.

But the war is over, and not everyone needs rescuing now. One significant event is a small one: Ryś finds Balbina the cat in the woods, but Balbina doesn't want to go with him. She is like any of the Guests who lived in the zoo: they don't want to stay at the villa anymore, not because they don't like it there, but because once it is safe, everyone wants to find a home of his or her own.

That doesn't mean that Jan and Antonina lose touch with everyone. Jan commissions animal sculptures from Magdalena to stand at the zoo, reminding them of her calming presence there during more troubled times.

Jan retires in 1951. He and Antonina focus on their writing, providing many of the sources for this book.

In the final chapter, set in 2005, Diane Ackerman, who is searching for sources, visits Warsaw and remembers everyone she includes in her book while she looks at a fountain. The inspiration flows through her. She realizes that, by telling this story, all of these people's memories live on.