Friday, February 24, 2012

Antonina Żabiński: The Zookeeper

Antonina Żabiński lived with wild animals in her own house and asked herself why "animals can sometimes subdue their predatory ways in only a few months, while humans, despite centuries of refinement, can quickly grow more savage than any beast?"  Anyone to ask this question, though in her diary, deserves a spotlight, as she treated her animal friends as humans and saw humans more beastly and barbaric than animals.

With her husband Jan, Antonina Żabiński owned and managed the Warsaw Zoo.  She had a way with animals that even when she was a child, animals calmed themselves around her.  Everyone she met said she was infectious; she knew how to read animals (though to a lesser extent people), and she knew how to keep liveliness in a time of complete disaster by playing piano, inspiring laughter, and keeping care of everyone she knew and didn't know.