Study Guide

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story Chapter 21

By Diane Ackerman

Chapter 21

  • We're back (from outer space) to Autumn 1942.
  • A new Underground group named Żegota is formed.
  • These people are dedicated to "rescue, not sabotage or fighting, and, as such, it was the only organization of its kind in occupied Europe during the war" (21.3).
  • As part of Żegota, Jan and Antonina help save many Jews. Their zoo floweth over with tenants.
  • Continuing the trend of hiding people in plain sight, the zoo soon becomes home to a Nazi fur farm.
  • In charge of it is Witold Wróblewski, a Pole nicknamed the "Fox Man."
  • Wróblewski raises foxes and other animals for fur. He is assisted by his cat, Balbina, who will never be anyone's fur coat.
  • The Fox Man actually uses Balbina as a wet nurse to feed young foxes.
  • Meanwhile, Antonina starts to care for a large muskrat named Szczurcio. She puts it in a cage on the porch, gives it a little swimming pool in a glass, and watches it bathe every day.
  • One day, the muskrat escapes, and our heroes find it in the chimney.
  • And another night, after soup is somehow spilled on the Fox Man's head, he lets birds eat noodles from his hair. Yum yum.