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Daughter of Warsaw Zoo directors who saved Jews from Nazis dies

The daughter of former Warsaw Zoo directors Jan and Antonina Zabinski, who saved hundreds of Jews from the Holocaust by hiding them at the zoo and whose story was told in the Hollywood movie “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” has died.

The zoo says on its Facebook page that Teresa Zabinska-Zawadzki died Saturday night, at age 77. It does not give the cause of her death.

“She always talked with pride about her parents and their heroism,” the zoo says.

It says that after having lived in Denmark, she returned to Warsaw some years ago.

In this file photo dated March 7, 2017, Teresa Zabinska, the daughter of Jan and Antonina Zabinski poses for a photo prior to the gala screening of ‘The Zookeeper’s Wife’ movie (AP Photo/Alik Keplicz, FILE)

Zabinska-Zawadzki was born at the zoo in 1944, under Nazi German occupation of Poland during World War II. For years during the war her parents saved some 300 Jews by hiding them at their villa on the zoo grounds, or in empty animal enclosures. Zabinska-Zawadzki’s brother Ryszard, who was 12 years older than her, brought food to the people in hiding and was featured in the movie. He died in 2019.

Israel’s Yad Vashem Institute has recognized the Zabinskis as Righteous Among the Nations for having risked the family’s lives in order to save Jewish lives.

In 2017, Zabinska-Zawadzki attended Warsaw’s gala screening of “The Zookeeper’s Wife,” a movie starring Jessica Chastain, about her parents’ heroism.

The movie was based on a 2007 US bestseller book by the same title, written by American author Diane Ackerman, that revealed the story to the world.

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