This true story takes place before and throughout WWII when the Germans invaded Poland. Married couple Jan and Antonina love animals and own Warsaw's zoo. When the animals are lost because of the war, the couple starts hiding Jews within the walls, caves and cages of the zoo - saving hundreds from a dreadful fate.
Author Diane Ackerman takes notes from history, scenes from Antonina's diary and snippets of interviews with the survivors. She discusses the family's love for animals - they had some amazing ones on display for the 1930s, I think. She also teaches the reader more about the war, and how Hitler felt this ethnic cleansing was necessary. At the same time, there are other zoologists in Germany who are trying to do the same with animals - recreate extinct species by killing off the weak herds and mating only the most dominant, the most pure.
Jan was a solider in his younger days, so as a leader of the Resistance's Underground, not only does he help hide and transport Jews to safety, he hides weapons under the Germans' noses, derails trains with bombs and poisons Nazis with worm-infested meats. And he gets a real kick out of it. :)
This book is a fast read - and I'm loving it.