Chapter 1 ~ The book begins in the summer of 1935 when Antonina wakes up to take care of creatures called gibbons. The author tells us a bit of Antonina and her husband, Jan. He becomes the zoo director in 1929. Jan and Antonina get married in 1931 and in 1932 have a son named Ry?. Antonina thinks she has a strange gift that allows her to talk to animals.Chapter 2 ~ Jan tries to stop Adolf, a rhesus monkey, while Antonina observes animals. She longs for people to connect more with their animal natures. Antonina often invites artists and reporters to the zoo. Chapter 3 ~ Jan meets Magdalena Gross, a sculptor. He suggest Mag to stay in zoo and sculpt the animals. Mags and Antonia forms a strong friendship. Summer of 1939, Rhys befriends badger, but a war is brewing. Chapter 4 ~Because German air forces attacked near the zoo, Jan sends Antonina to a resort village. German aircraft strikes again. Jan arrives days later to take Antonia back to zoo, but the zoo is badly damaged. Jan and Antonina were forced to evacuate. Chapter 5 ~Jan joins the army, Antonina and Ry? move into a small apartment in city. They depends on the kindness of old women downstairs to help her with food and other necessities. Occasionally, Antonia leaves the apartment and wanders the city, looking at wreckage. She worries about teenage boys left in charge of the animals. But Antonina only thinks of the animals, and she herself feels like a hunted animal.Chapter 6 ~ Nazi aircraft bomb Warsaw, including the zoo. Antonina tries to rescue the animals. Some animals survive, but she can’t find Ry?’s pet badger. Later, Jan bumped into a German officer, who turned out to be Dr. Müller, a fellow member of the International Association of Zoo Directors. Müller helped Jan escape by “arresting” him, bringing him to Warsaw as a prisoner, and then releasing him. Antonina and Jan go back to the zoo to find any more wounded animals, then return to their apartment. Warsaw officially surrenders to Germany and they take over. Antonina and Jan return to the zoo for good. The Polish Resistance is forming and Jan is interested in being a part of it. Chapter 7 ~ Antonina and Jan were visited by the representative for Lutz Heck, the director of the Berlin Zoo. Heck wants all the Warsaw Zoo’s animals. Since the zoo is in danger of being liquidated, Antonina and Jan ponder if they should agree with the offer.Chapter 8 ~ The reader finds out that Heck is obsessed with resurrecting three pure-blooded and extinct species such as Tarpans, Aurochsen, and the European bison. His obsession with animal purity starts to slowly seep into human races later on.Chapter 9 ~ Antonina wakes up in the darkness. Since there was a blackout, the bedroom windows have been sealed with plywood. Antonina must get ready for Lutz Heck’s visit. When Heck arrives, he’s surprisingly friendly. He promises to persuade German high command to be lenient toward the zoo. In the meantime, Heck wants for the zoo’s animals. Antonina feels they have no choice to comply. Chapter 10 ~ Heck soon returns to the zoo with high-ranking SS friends to take them on a big game hunt. It’s like shooting animals in cages, which is hardly much of a hunt.Antonina is shocked by Heck’s betrayal and worries about how many people will be hunted in the following months.Chapter 11 ~ The zoo becomes a pig farm for the Germans. Jan gives Ry? a piglet that he names Mory?. Antonina is happy her son has something resembling a normal happy childhood.Chapter 12 ~ Antonina is upset as German hostilities continue. The Nazis lock away over 400,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. Two of Antonina and Jan’s friends, (Adam and Wanda Englert), stage a fake divorce so their daughter, Wanda, can flee. But before she runs away, they throw a farewell party. Antonina and Jan head to the party, but is interrupted by a bombing. Antonina and Jan are saved because they stopped to have a smoke. Antonina and Jan don’t have time to rejoice in their luck, because the bombs appear to have fallen near Ry?’s school. Luckily, all the kids are safe. Wanda ends up disappearing, but shows up in zoo.Chapter 13 ~ Jan feels that he is morally in debt to the Jews because he went to school that was primarily Jewish. To repay a abstract debt, Jan secretly uses his zoo to hide refugees. Working as part of the Underground, Jan adapts the code name “Francis,” after Francis of Assisi (patron saint of animals)Chapter 14 ~ To camouflage their secret “Guests”, Antonina and Jan keep the zoo populated with many legal visitors. Their strategy is to hide people in plain sight. Antonina takes on the role of hostess, doing all the added chores and finding a way to provide extra food. Jan hides material for bombs underground. Antonina teaches Ry? never to talk about the Guests to anyone, because if he does, everyone in the house will be murdered. German soldiers drag Mory? the pig away to be butchered.Chapter 15 ~ The Germans shut down the pig farm at the zoo. Antonina is baffled, because that means less meat for everyone, even the Nazis. Jan is angry, because the pig farm was his excuse for sneaking into the Ghetto for supplies. Now he has to find a new way into the Ghetto. The Nazis also cut down many of the plants and trees and replace them with German ones. Jan soon meets with Warsaw’s Polish vice-president, who hooks Jan up with a Ghetto pass. It’s a job linked to Warsaw’s Parks and Gardens Department, giving Jan access to the Ghetto under the guise of inspecting its flora. This job introduces Jan and Antonina to the famous entomologist, Dr. Szymon Tenenbaum. Tenenbaum leaves insect collection to Jan for safekeeping. Tenenbaum allegedly authorizes a German named Ziegler to inspect his collection. Jan worries that Tenenbaum has turned him and Antonina in to the Nazis. Ziegler wants Jan to be a liaison between him and Tenenbaum, an arrangement that would grant Jan unprecedented access to the Ghetto. Entering the Ghetto under the guise of being a beetle expert gives Jan the ability to sneak many people out. Tenenbaum dies in the winter, and Ziegler leaves his dog, Zarka, in Antonina’s care. Jan begins to plot an escape for Tenenbaum’s widow.Chapter 16 ~ Jan attempts to smuggle Lonia Tenenbaum—the lost member of the royal Tenenbaums—out of the Ghetto. But Jan and Lonia are stopped, because the guard who normally is on duty isn’t. His wife is. Jan yells at the wife, and she agrees to open the gate and let him and Lonia through. Lonia stays at the zoo as a Guest for a couple of weeks before moving to safer lodgings in the countryside. Lonia leaves Zarka, there pet dog behind.Chapter 17 ~ Everything the Nazis did to the zoo like kill its plants and animals and replace them with German ones the Nazis start doing… to the world.Chapter 18 ~ It’s 1941, summer passes into autumn. Then, autumn passes into winter. Keeping Antonina and Ry? company are a rabbit named Wicek (Vincent, in English) and a chicken named Kuba (Jacob). In Spring 1942, Guests arrive at the zoo once more. One of the Guests is Antonina’s friend’s from Chapter 3, Magdalena Gross. Magdalena tries to avoid staying at the zoo for as long as she can, not because she doesn’t like the zoo, but because she wants to live some semblance of a normal life. So Magdalena eventually flees for the zoo.Chapter 19 ~ Antonia kneads dough in the kitchen because the Guests need bread. Magdalena helps Antonina make croissants. The reader learns they whenever the Guests need to hide, Antonina plays a song on the piano: Offenbach’s “Go, go, go to Crete!” Which means to go into hiding. Magdalena wonders if she’ll ever be able to enjoy this music again.Chapter 20 ~ In the autumn of 1942, Antonina is stricken with a sickness that leaves her legs swollen and hot so she had stay in bed. The author speculates that this may have been the result from Antonina’s pregnancy. We then jump back to the June of 1942, where the Polish Underground receives a letter warning them of a mass execution of Jews. Before the Ghetto was liquidated, which Antonina feared what would happen at the zoo, we jump back again to 1940, where pediatrician names Henryk Goldszmit starts an orphanage. We then jump forward to august 1942 where Goldszmit and all the orphans are put on a train to Treblinka. Finally, we fast-forward to 1971, when Russians name an asteroid after Goldszmit.Chapter 21 ~ This chapter returns to Autumn in 1942. A new Underground group named ?egota is formed. These people are dedicated to rescue, not fighting. As part of ?egota, Jan and Antonina help save many Jews. 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. 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. 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.Chapter 22 ~ In Winter 1942, Jan brings Ry? a new pet a hamster. Antonina calls her house a “Noah’s Ark,” and she says this the beginning of “the Hamster Era.”Chapter 23 ~ A new guest arrives,the pale and sickly Maurycy Fraenkel. Maurycy pretends to be Antonina’s doctor, because Antonina is afraid the housekeeper will give him away. Maurycy soon becomes best friends with there the hamster.Chapter 24 ~ In Spring 1943, Heinrich Himmler wants to give Hitler a birthday present. The death of all the Jews. Then jump to December 10 when Jewish family friends of Antonina show up for refuge. Then in the summer of 1942, when Jews are being transported to concentration camps. Regina Kenigswein and her husband, Samuel, flee and end up on Antonina’s doorstep.Antonina hides the Kenigsweins in the Pheasant House, where they stay for two months.Chapter 25 ~ In December 1943, Antonina bleaches the Kenigsweins’ hair to make them appear more Aryan. This leads us down a tangent about a woman named Dr. Mada Walter, who opened an institute to help Jews “pass” as Aryans.Chapter 26 ~ It’s spring. Older children from the Underground arrive at the zoo, and Ry? makes friends with them. One day, the mother of one of Ry?’s friends comes to Antonina. She overhead the boys plotting to hang a flag that says “Hitler kaput!” on it. Jan and Antonina foil the boys’ plot. Jan asks Ry? how he should be punished. But Ry? says that they can spank me, and his father does so.Chapter 27 ~ Now it’s the Spring of 1943, and Antonina recovers from her leg infection. However, the more Jan leaves the house to work for the Underground, the tenser their marriage grows. He picks at her, and she feels like she never does anything right. However, one day, German soldiers come to the door and accuse Antonina of purposefully starting a fire on zoo grounds. Antonina says that the soldiers themselves probably did it. The barn is on fire, and Antonina suggests that a German sneaking away with his girlfriend was enjoying a smoke and set the place ablaze. Jan admires Antonina’s resolve and compliments her at dinner. Antonina is thrilled. Her husband has never praised her in public before. Antonina believes the real reason she was able to dissuade the soldier is due to her telepathic waves.Chapter 28 ~ A member of ?egota helps Jan and Antonina secure false documents for their Guests and relocate them. Magdalena, being famous, is a special risk, so she is soon relocated. More Guests arrive, and the cycle continues.Chapter 29 ~ In May 1943, Jan and Antonina hide young Underground members in the Pheasant House. Young Ry? makes friends with them. The Undergrounders think it’s funny that his name, Ry?, means lynx, while they are code-named Pheasants.The visit doesn’t last long, and soon the Underground people leave the zoo. Ry? is sad that his new friends have abandoned him.Chapter 30 ~ In Winter 1943, Ry? is hospitalized for pneumonia. He returns as the snow melts in the spring. We’re told it’s Spring 1943, not Spring 1944, when the president of Warsaw tells Jan he wants to rebuild and restore the zoo. Jan is thrilled, but the director of the Parks and Gardens opposes this and tells the Germans to fire Jan. Nevertheless, the Polish vice-president intercepts the complaint and instead transfers Jan to the Pedagogic Museum, so that he won’t lose all his income and his house. One day, while Jan is at work, Antonina visits a friend’s house for a bath. While she is there, German soldiers inspect the house and wonder why Antonina, an undocumented visitor, is in this house. It’s a tense moment, but the soldiers don’t do anything to Antonina. In June, Antonina gives birth to a daughter, Teresa. Teresa’s christening is celebrated on July 10. Maurycy’s hamster drinks too much honeyed vodka and dies. Chapter 31 ~ lt’s now 1944. Even though we’re told nothing had changed, we’re then told that the majority of Guests have left to join the army or escape. Jan and Antonina get word that the Polish Uprising could happen at any minute. Jan leaves to fight. Antonina stays home, waiting for Jan to return. One day, a waking nightmare occurs. Germans invade the house and pull guns on Antonina and her baby. As punishment for the Uprising, Hitler has ordered his soldiers to kill all Poles. Antonina is about to become one of them. First, the soldiers lead Ry? and his friends away to shoot them. Antonina and her baby are next. But Antonina uses her “magic mind powers” to tell them to put the guns down. Soon, the soldiers call back Ry? and his friends. They didn’t shoot them. Another day later and soldiers arrive to loot the house. But again, Antonina uses her magic mind powers to snap the leader out of it. Antonina places her hand on the soldier’s shoulder and says for them to stop. The soldier stops stealing. Not only that—the soldier also gives Antonina a ring that likely came from a dead Polish soldier. Later, a German officer enters the house while Antonina is playing the piano. He asks her to play “the Star-Spangled Banner” of all things, and she complies. He sings along, and then he leaves.Chapter 32 ~ In the fall, Fox Man is ordered to leave the zoo and take his fur farm to Germany. Afraid to stay in the village as bombs are falling, Antonina and Ry? hide in his truck, and he smuggles them to a nearby village. There, Antonina and Ry? live in an abandoned schoolhouse. The local teacher, Mrs. Kokot, helps them with food and hot water. All they eat is bread and butter. While eating her food, Antonia frets about whether Jan is still alive or not. We’re told he is. Even though he was shot through the neck, Jan is alive in a POW camp.Chapter 33 ~ In December 1944, Antonina gets a letter from Jan. It’s just a simple drawing, but it lets Antonina know Jan’s still alive.Chapter 34 ~ In 1945, the Germans flee Warsaw, and Antonina returns to the zoo. Surprisingly, the house has survived, although not whole. A lot of the home’s wood was taken and used for firewood. Ry? finds his cat Balbina survived. However, Balbina doesn’t want to go with Ry? to their temporary home. He releases her into the woods.Chapter 35 ~ This is the “Where Are They Now?” chapter of the book. After the war, Magdalena marries Maurycy. Jan returns in 1946 and begins rebuilding the zoo in 1947. The zoo reopens in 1949, complete with sculptures from Magdalena decorating it. Lutz Heck actually returns thirty bison he “borrowed.” Antonina writes children’s books till her death in 1971. Jan dies three years later.Chapter 36 ~ The author tells us that the Nazis never quite succeeded in creating the animals of the past. Ironically, the Nazis helped save scores of rare living plants and animals that were endangered. . Ackerman visits Warsaw in 2005. She wanders the street and stares at a statue of a mermaid holding a sword. Ackerman imagines that Antonina would have identified with the statue.